Who can get a Social Security Card?

If you are in the United States legally you should be able to get a Social Security card, although having a Social Security card does not necessarily guarantee you the right to work. Generally, however, the Social Security Administration will be allowed to issue a basic Social Security card to United States citizens, green card holders, and refugees and immigrants who have received political asylum. If you have the basic Social Security card it will allow you the right to live and work in the United States.

Different types of Social Security Cards

As mentioned above, not all Social Security cards are the same. In fact, the SSA issues three different types of cards. The first, and the most common, has been issued since 1935. It identifies a person’s name and SSA number. This card will allow a person to work without restriction in the United States.

The second type of SSA card does not allow an individual to work. It is specifically issued to people who enter the country legally and need a Social Security number but do not have the authorization to work. On this card is the statement "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT."

The third type of Social Security card was first offered in 1992, and it is specifically for individuals who come to the U.S. to work temporarily and have Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorization to work. This card can be identified with the statement "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION."

What information does the SSA need to issue a Social Security card to me?

To issue a Social Security card to you the Social Security Administration will need originals or copies of the document issued by the appropriate agency. They do not accept notarized copies or photocopies.

  1. Citizenship - The social Security Administration will need proof of citizenship, which can include a United States passport or a United States birth certificate. If you do not have a birth certificate the SSA may accept a religious record made before the age of 5 showing your date of birth or a U.S. hospital record of your birth. If you are over the age of 12 you must appear in person for an interview and provide evidence that you do not already have a SSA number.
  2. Proof of Identity - Next, the SSA will ask for proof of your identity. Proof of identity can be made with an acceptable document which is not expired and which shows your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph. Examples include a United States driver’s license, state-issued nondriver identification card or U.S. passport. If you do not have any of the previously identified documents the SSA may also accept an employee identification card, a school identification card, a health insurance card or a United States military identification card. Finally, if you are not a United States citizen, the SSA will also need proof of immigration status. This information tells the SSA whether or not you can work in the United States. The Social Security Administration expects two separate documents, although one document may be used to establish both identity and proof of citizenship.

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