Your identity is crucial, and whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, you need a Social Security card. Often, when waiting for a new card or replacement card, people choose to obtain a temporary Social Security card.
You can procure a temporary card even if you are not an American citizen.
In this article, we will outline the process for obtaining a temporary Social Security card, including copies of documents and the procedure for a temporary printout. The process usually isn’t appreciably more difficult than obtaining a temporary driver’s license.
Table of Contents
Why You Need a Temporary Social Security Card
You may need a temporary card from the Social Security Administration (SSA) because you could:
- Be asked to prove your citizenship to get a job
- Be required to show “two forms of ID” without carrying your birth certificate with you
- Become detained by US Customs or other agency
- Be asked for one to complete a university or other school application
- Wish to open a bank account or apply for a loan
Simply knowing your Social Security number is not enough; a replacement Social Security card is a must and if you can’t get one quickly, a temporary card is prudent.
What If Your Card Is Lost or Stolen?
If you lose your Social Security card, it’s best to take proof of identity, proof of age, and any documents relating to immigration status directly to your local Social Security office. The SSA must be the issuing agency for your new card.
You can apply for a temporary Social Security card online, but because the SSA must print your temporary card, you may need to wait ten business days before receiving it.
The application for a Social Security card, whether brand new or temporary, is best accomplished at the local office.
What You’ll Need Before Applying
Below, we will list what you’ll need and the acceptable documents for proof.
Proof of identity:
- driver’s license
- U.S. state identification card
Proof of U.S. citizen age or date of birth:
- birth certificate
- adoption record
- religious record
- hospital birth record
- Social Security record or letter
Proof of United States citizenship and/or immigration status:
- work permit
- letter from employer or school official
- unexpired foreign passport
- form I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record)
If you’ve legally completed a name change you’ll need further proof of ID, including any documents you filed to change your name and any documents that show your name before and after you changed it.
Steps To Get Your Temporary Social Security Card
If you decide to apply online, you will need to complete a form SS-5. This process is no-cost, and can be completed on the SSA website. If you need assistance with the SS-5 form (or any forms), a Social Security disability attorney can usually help.
Getting your temporary Social Security card will not take a lot of time if you have your ID card, proof of U.S. citizenship and age, and/or proof of U.S. mailing address. In addition, official documentation from SSA, such as correspondence about Social Security benefits, is helpful.
This article does not cover details about how to get a new replacement card online (or a brand new Social Security card), but be aware that those processes are quite similar.
At Your Social Security Office
You will want to visit your local SSA field office for the fastest results. Bring all relevant documents to your nearest Social Security office, and make sure to bring a certified copy of each when possible.
You may call or go online to make an appointment at your local office, which saves time standing in line.
Your temporary card can only be printed by SSA for legal reasons.
Getting Your Temporary Card Online
Use My Social Security if you:
- Are a U.S. citizen who is 18 years of age or older,
- Have a driver’s license or a state-issued ID, and
- Are not requesting a name change
It may take up to ten business days to receive your temporary new card after completing your online application. We highly recommend obtaining a temporary Social Security card in person.