What is a social security number and why do you need one
A social security number is a nine-digit number that the Social Security Administration gives you when you’re born in the United States, as well as to anyone who lives in the United States and wishes to work. It mixes both your personal data and unique identifiers so that it’s easy for them to process your information. Your social security number is also what enables you to open up and use your bank accounts, pay your taxes, and receive social security benefits.
Now, one of the most common questions that you’ll get asked is “What is a social security number?” And if you’re like most Americans, you don’t know. You probably just thought it was a random format set out by the government to keep track of everyone’s personal data and identity.
While this isn’t wrong (to some degree), it also doesn’t stress all of the reasons why your social security number is so important.
What Is a Social Security Number?
A social security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents of the United States for the purposes of working in the country. It’s made up of both numbers and letters, with a hyphen dividing the two parts.
How to apply for a social security number
The easiest way to apply for a social security number is to go straight to the source. The Social Security Administration offers an official form that you can fill out and mail in, as well as an online option if you prefer to apply from home. They’ll ask for basic information such as your name, birth date, and address, but you can also provide them with your own unique information, like your mother’s maiden name for security purposes. Once you’ve filled out the form, you can either mail it in or submit it online and wait for your new social security number to arrive in the mail.
For a quick rundown of the process, here’s what you’ll need to do:
Apply for a Social Security card by mail or online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. You’ll receive your new card in four to six weeks (if you mail in your application, that time can be reduced). Present your certificate of birth at the DMV when you apply for your driver’s license or ID card, and provide the same information on that form as you provided when applying for your new card.
Once you have your social security card, you can apply for a bank account, open a credit card or loan, and even order a credit report. Make sure to keep your social security card in a safe place so that you can always prove your identity and age.
What to do if you lose your social security card
If you lose or misplace your social security card, there’s no need to panic. You can just make a copy of the front and back of your identification using an office printer, then either mail it in or submit it online. There is, however, the option to walk into a Social Security Administration Office in your area and apply for a replacement right away. You won’t need to bring your social security card with you when you go in, but you will need to provide them with identification. You can use a government issued photo ID such as your Medicare card or a driver’s license.
You can also submit an online application for a replacement through ssa.gov/for-seniors/apply-online at any time. You will need to provide information about your Social Security number, the card you lost and the type of card you are requesting. If the office determines that your request is legitimate, they will mail you a duplicate card in 10 to 20 business days. If you applied online, you can track the status of your request through a personalized web page.
How to change your name or Social Security information
If you’re married, have a baby, or want to change your birth information to accurately reflect your age, you can do so with the Social Security Administration just like any other minor change. You’ll need to visit their office with identification and proof of all your information changes. If you wish, you can use their online form for a manual change or visit an office and submit the form that they provide there. Either way, you’ll need to wait for your new identification to arrive, which can take anywhere between two and six weeks.
Changing your name
You’ll need to fill out an SS-5 application to change your name, providing your Social Security number, bank account numbers, and any other information that will help you verify your identity. The process is basically the same as changing other information on your Social Security card such as a change in marital status or a legal name change. You can find the form online or at any Social Security Office. [END ARTICLE]
Social Security benefits for retirement, disability, and survivors
Social security benefits are a great perk for retirees who have served the United States. But that doesn’t mean you can get them without having a valid social security number. In fact, you’ll need one in order to receive a monthly benefit check. There are other benefits that can be applied to your monthly income, like the Supplemental Security Income, or SSI program. This is a program designed to help low-income citizens across the United States who may not be eligible for retirement benefits from Social Security but still need extra money to survive. You can find out more information about both programs on their website.
Social Security Administration
SSI provides benefits to disabled persons and those who are older than 65. You will be required to apply for Social Security if you want disability benefits from the agency. It’s important to remember that SSI is a separate program from Social Security, so its rules may be different for you. If you want to receive disability through the SSI program, it might be more difficult because the agency does not consider blindness or age as proof of dependence. You will also have to qualify through your income and assets.