How to Replace a Social Security Card in California
If you live in California replacing your Social Security card is a four-step process that you can take care of in an hour or two.
If you are a United States Citizen, your Social Security card is one of the key documents you’ll use to show your citizenship and identify who you are. Along with your driver’s license driver’s license and birth certificate, your Social Security card is necessary if you want to have valid identification for a variety of purposes. All state-issued state ID cards as well, for citizens who don’t drive.
The replacement card is completely free of charge and only requires completing a short application.
If Your Social Security Card Is Lost or Stolen, You Should:
Place a Fraud Alert on your Credit File
Contact any of the three major credit agencies – Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the one you contact will report the alert to all other agencies. This alert will last for 90 days but you can renew it if you still feel unsafe. The numbers for each are listed below.
Get Copies of Your Credit Report
You’ll need a reference from the time your fraud report is filed so that you will know of any fraudulent transactions that could affect your credit. Review these reports on a monthly basis. In fact, you should consider using a credit monitoring service to help you keep track.
Report Theft to the IRS
This one is important. Reporting your stolen Social Security card to the IRS prevents fraudulent tax returns from being filed. If you don’t report the theft immediately, you may be responsible for any fraudulent filings using your original documents. Make sure you cover yourself.
Here is the contact information to help you take this step.
IRS Website: www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection
Report Theft to the Federal Trade Commission
Like the previous steps, this is to cover yourself. It’s important to make sure you have a paper trail just in case a thief steals your identity.
File a Report with Local Authorities
This is another item that will help create a paper trail that can protect you. Having a police report will help clear your records if a fraudulent transaction is placed on your credit report.
Check Your Credit Report Monthly
This was previously mentioned, but it’s worth emphasizing.
Check your report every month. If you notice fraudulent activity, contact both the company holding the account and the credit-reporting agencies. In fact, you can get a new Social Security number if you can prove that your current number has been stolen or compromised. This is discussed in more detail below.
Report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
This report is distributed to authorities that are relevant.
You should also check out the Federal Trade Commission official website for more information on what to do if your identity has been stolen.
The Four Steps to Replace My Social Security Card in California
1. Complete the right application—a form SS-5
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses an application called the SS-5 for all new and replacement Social Security cards. Even if you move to another state, the application form itself, and the application process, does not change. The SSA is the issuing agency for this form, and will be the ones to review it.
Before you replace a lost, frayed, or existing card, you’ll need to fill out the SS-5 application. The SS-5 can also be used to apply for an original (first) Social Security card or update information to an existing card.
To get a replacement Social Security card in California, go online to the specific SSA website for the SS-5. You will notice the form says “SS-5” and “Social Security Administration” in the upper left corner of all five pages.
Use only a black or blue ink pen to fill out the SS-5. You will begin with your legal name and fill out the information as requested. (If you are getting a new Social Security card, you’ll need to provide your new name so your original Social Security card can be altered.)
Once you’ve completed the form, you will need to print it, then either mail it in, or take to your local Social Security office in California and submit face-to-face. You do not need to access your Social Security account if you are on disability or retired.
Getting the SS-5 is one of the many SSA online services.
2. Gather need identifying information to submit with your card replacement application
The next step is to find original documents you’ll need to ensure you have the right information. Remember, you are not applying for a new Social Security card but replacing an existing one.
The SS-5 is used for a lot of different purposes, but to replace your Social Security card in California you will need documentation to prove your identity and date of birth. Examples of such documents for U.S. citizens include:
- State-issued ID (for any state)
- U.S. passport
- A valid, unexpired U.S. driver’s license
- U.S. birth certificate
If you were born outside the United States, you’ll have a different set of documents to first prove your U.S. citizenship or proof of legal, work-authorized status.
Be sure to submit legal, original copies—not photocopies or notarized replacements.
If you are unable to find the right documents, and unable to replace them in a timely manner, you may be able use other documents. It’s best to bring these to the Social Security Office rather than mailing them. These documents include:
- Employee identification card
- School identification card
- Health insurance card (not a Medicare card)
- U.S. military identification card
The secondary documents must clearly show your full name, your date of birth or age, and preferably will have a current photograph. If you are in doubt about whether you have the right documents, call the SSA at Call us at 1-800-772-1213 for guidance.
For non-citizens, immigration papers are a must, or a foreign passport with photograph and age and name identification. Your immigration status should show up on whatever documents you use.
3. Submit your replacement card application to the Social Security Administration
After filling in all sections of the SS-5 application and collecting the right ID (from Step 2), the next step is to take or mail the application plus ID to the Social Security Office. The most direct route is to go in for a face-to-face meeting, but this will usually mean waiting in the lobby.
Be sure to make copies of documents beforehand, for safekeeping.
Some California residents – especially those in no rush – chose to mail the application and proof of ID to the SSA office instead. This route means a wait of 10 to 14 days before receiving a replacement Social Security card. Be sure to include your return U.S. mailing address.
Others prefer the face-to-face option because they receive their ID (driver’s license, U.S. passport, etc.) back immediately. Again, this may require a wait of several hours but if you need a replacement card quickly, this is the way to go.
Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, in-person services can be more of a problem in some states. If you aren’t sure where to submit the form, check the ssa.gov website for instructions.
4. Make sure your information is accurate
This last step is easy to overlook, but it’s important you check in with SSA that your SS-5 application was completed successfully and processed correctly so your replacement Social Security is accurate and valid.
You can confirm the process went as planned by calling your local California SSA office.
Keep in mind that the SS-5 is also useful if you want to update existing information attached to your Social Security number. The most common reason for updating is a name change.
When you receive your replacement Social Security card, the ID document you submitted will be returned to you.
All of these steps are simple and routine. The SSA processes thousands of applications for new and updated Social Security cards each day and have it down to a science.
If you download and fill out the correct form, provide the right ID, and mail or take your completed paperwork to the SSA, you will be well on your way to a replacement Social Security card. Last, don’t forget to check in with SSA to ensure the information you gave was processed accurately.
Any questions about this process can be answered at https://www.ssa.gov/.