If you are changing your immigration status from green card holder to U.S. citizen, you will need to obtain a Social Security card for the first time by printing out Form SS-5,  Social Security Administration: Application for a Social Security Card, filling in the information and either mailing your application or taking it to your local Social Security office. This form is also used if you need to change the name on your card due to marriage, divorce, filing for the first time, need a replacement, applying for your child, and several other scenarios that we’ll explore in this article.

How to Apply for a Social Security Card with SS5 Form

The process to apply for a Social Security card using the SS-5 Form is fairly straightforward, and it is free to file. You cannot file online if you are trying to get a card for the first time or making legal name changes on it. It’s important to note that you must provide original supporting documentation or documents certified by the custodian of the original record per the application requirements. Notarized copies or photocopies which have not been certified by the custodian of the record will not be accepted, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is likely to return them to you and ask for originals or certified documents.

SS5 Form Example

Obtaining an Original Social Security Card

If you have never had a Social Security Card and want to obtain one for the first time, you’ll need to fill out Form SS-5 (along with your supporting documents) and either mail them or take them to a Social Security office in person. To get a first-time Social Security Card, you need to submit at least two forms of documentation proving your age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or work-authorized immigration status.

To supply evidence of age, typically what is recommended is your birth certificate, but other documents that will be accepted include:

  • Passport
  • Final Adoption Decree, if applicable
  • U.S. hospital record of birth
  • Religious record

Documents that are accepted to meet the proof of identity requirement include:

  • U.S. Driver’s License
  • U.S. state-issued non-driver identity card
  • U.S. Passport

SSA  may accept other documents if you cannot get one of the aforementioned ones within ten business days including a U.S. military identity card, Certificate of Naturalization, employee ID card, health insurance or Medicaid card, and certified copy medical records among others. You can find a complete list of acceptable proofs of identity on page 2 of the SS-5 Form.

Documents that will not be accepted to meet the proof of identity requirement include birth certificates, social security card stubs, or hospital souvenir birth certificates. Note that if you are not a U.S. citizen, you must send documentation of your current immigration status along with your passport.

Getting a Replacement Social Security Card

Be wary of any site that says you can apply entirely online for a first-time card. You can, however, file for a replacement card online, but only after you make an account on the Social Security website. It’s recommended to make an account so you can monitor the status of your application, manage benefits, and get a gauge of future benefits owed to you.

To apply for a replacement card, you need to submit the SS5 application form and supporting documentation proving your identity. Not a U.S. citizen? You can use your current U.S. immigration documents along with your foreign passport.

Documents Proving Your Citizenship & Immigration Status

You can use the following documents to prove evidence of U.S. citizenship:

  • U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport
  • Consular Report of Birth
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization

To show evidence of immigration status, you need to submit a current unexpired document issued to you by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which clearly states your immigration status. Examples of approved documentation include:

Additional documents may be required for international or exchange visitors like Form I-20, DS-2019, or other letters from the employer or school authorizing employment.

Not authorized to work in the United States? The SSA can only issue you a Social Security card if needed for a valid non-work reason. The SSA will label the card to say that you are not authorized to work. If you try to work DHS will be notified. The SS-5 application form will ask if you are a legal alien not allowed to work. If you check that box indicating that you are not allowed to work, you must submit documentation from federal, state, or local government justifying why you need a Social Security number.

How to Apply for a Social Security Card with SS5 Form

Carefully Guard Your Social Security Card and Number

Your Social Security Number is one of the most critical identifiers you have in the United States. It would be best if you took great care to keep it confidential except when necessary to provide like applying for credit, making large purchases, or loans. Thieves and scammers will go to extreme lengths to try and get this number from you so that they can steal your identity and take out loans in your name and obtain other benefits.

Be cautious of giving it out in emails, by phone, or online. As a rule of thumb, always keep your SSN and card in a safe place and do not keep it on your person for everyday activities.

SS5 Form Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about how to apply for a social security card online as well as how to get a temporary card and

How do I access the application for a Social Security card online? 

You can apply for a social security card online through this Social Security website, but only if you request a replacement card. If you are trying to get a Social Security Card for the first time, you must mail in the SS-5 application form along with support documents or take them to a Social Security office in person.

How long does it take to get a replacement Social Security card?

If you are requesting a replacement card, it typically takes 10–14 business days after your application has been processed. For new applications, it can take between two to four weeks. 

What should I do if I receive a call saying there’s a problem with my Social Security number?

Generally, the SSA will mail you a letter if there’s an issue with your account rather than call you unless you request a call. One of the newest scams is robocalls and fraudsters telling individuals that there is a problem with their SSN or account. Be very wary of these predatory practices, and do not give your personal information over the phone.

Official SSA employees will never threaten to suspend your account, demand payment over the phone or other gifts. If you receive a call like this, report it to the Office of the Inspector General. You can always learn more about fraud prevention and reporting.

Will the Social Security office give you a temporary card?

You can obtain a temporary Social Security card by applying for it with the SSA. Since only the SSA can print temporary cards, going to a local office will be your fastest (and recommended) course of action. You can get a temporary card online if you are a U.S. citizen (18 years of age or older), have a driver’s license or state-issued ID, and are not requesting a name change. It will take approximately ten business days to receive your temporary card doing it this way.

How do I make a change or correct information on my Social Security card?

You must first fill out and print the Application for Social Security card, then mail the application with supporting documents to the SSA or take it to a local office. We provide the complete list of approved documents above. You must submit at least two forms of documentation proving your age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or work-authorized immigration status.

How do I get a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099/1042S)?

The SSA mails the SSA-1099 tax form to people who receive Social Security benefits in January of each year and states the total benefits you received from SS in previous years to report it with your tax return. Nonresident aliens will receive Form SSA-1042S instead. If you need to see the form, you can log on to your Social Security Account and look under the “Replacement Documents” tab. You can also call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213.

Can I fill out form SS5 online?

If this is your first time applying for a social security card, then you cannot submit your SS5 online. You can fill it out online, but you will have to physically submit your completed form along with your supporting documents.  You must submit your SS5 package to your closest Social Security office by mail or in person. This process also applies to you if you are applying to make any changes to your existing social security card.

What documents do I need to send with SS5?

The required documents that you must submit with your SS5 must show:

  • Evidence of age, which can be a passport, hospital record of birth, or religious record.
  • Proof of identity, which can be a U.S. driver’s license, non-driver identity card, or passport.
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, which can be a U.S. birth certificate or passport, consular report of birth, certificate of citizenship, or certificate of naturalization.
  • Evidence of immigration status (if applicable), which can be any eligible immigration document that states your immigration status like Form I-766.

The documents that you will submit vary dramatically from person to person and whether it is your first time obtaining a social security card, you are applying to make a change to your existing card, or you are applying to renew your card. You must read the SS5 instructions carefully and submit appropriate documents. If you submit the wrong documents, it is likely that your SS5 will be rejected.

What is the purpose of form SS5?

SS5, Application for a Social Security Card is an application form by the Social Security Administration that allows U.S. residents receive social security cards. You can use your social security number for credit applications in most U.S. banks for mortgages, car loans, etc. Most importantly, the government tracks your contributions to social security through your social security number. Meaning that the sum of payment that you will receive when you retire or in case of disability is directly tied to your social security contributions.

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Adjusting your status from green card holder to U.S. citizen involves filing many documents with government agencies. VisaNation Law Group's team of immigration experts can help you file all the proper documents so you are set up for success to work and live in the United States.