2006-05-26 / Columnists

Social Security And You

Understanding Citizen and Non-Citizen Requirements For Acquiring A Social Security Card And Number
By James Glasser, Manager, Far Rockaway Social Security Center


James Glasser
James Glasser While most American citizens now have Social Security cards issued at birth, anyone applying for his or her first Social Security card or number must prove both identity and citizenship. U.S. citizens can prove age and citizenship with a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport. U.S. citizens can prove their identity with a current (not expired) document showing the person's name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph. For example, we would accept a U.S. driver's license or passport, or a state-issued nondriver identification card.

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

Getting a Social Security card if you are a non-citizen

All non-citizens needing a Social Security number must prove their immigration status, and also show proof of age, identity and work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security.

To prove your age you must show your birth certificate if you have it or can easily get it. If not, we can ask for other documents, such as your passport.

As proof of immigration status and identity, Social Security will ask for your unexpired passport and current immigration documents from the Department of Homeland Security, including a:

Permanent Residence Card or Form I-551; Arrival-Departure Record or Form I-94 with an unexpired passport; or Work permit card - Form I-766 or I-688b.

These documents must be current, meaning they cannot be expired. And, again, all documents must be either originals or copies certified by the agency that issued them.

We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.

If you would like more information about Social Security cards and the requirements needed to get one, just visit our website at www.social security.gov/ssnumber.

If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the publication, Your Social Security Number And Card, or Social Security Numbers For Non-citizens.

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