SSN Update After Green Card

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on June 8, 2023
At a Glance: A Social Security Number (SSN) is necessary for green card holders in the U.S. to access benefits and pay taxes. Updating the SSN after obtaining a green card can be done online or by visiting a Social Security Administration office. Green card holders can also request an SSN when applying for a green card or apply for it separately after arriving in the U.S. It is important to keep the SSN private to prevent misuse, and obtaining citizenship requires updating the Social Security Card.

A Green Card is a key to your American dream. But a unique Social Security Number (SSN) is equally important. It is used by almost all government agencies and important private organizations to obtain relevant information about you.

But in certain cases, you may be required to make changes to the information within your Social Security card. In this article, we’ll explain how to update your SSN after receiving your Green Card.

Social Security Number for Green Card Holders

If you’re coming to the U.S. to be a permanent resident and hold a Green Card, then it’s crucial to get your SSN so you can receive all the benefits of being a typical American. Legally, you’re required to have it anyway. As you work in the country, you’ll be paying Social Security taxes.

As a green card holder, you’ll be awarded credits that can be exchanged for Social Security benefits. Permanent residents typically have to put in 40 quarters, or 10 years, of work since they can only earn a maximum of 4 credits each year.

Do You Need to Change Your Social Security Card After Getting a Green Card?

You do not need to change your Social Security Card (SSC) after getting the Green card until and unless you need to change the information contained in the card. If, however, your card gets stolen or you lose it, then you need to apply for a Social Security Card replacement.

Once you become a U.S. citizen, you’d be required to mandatorily make changes to your Social Security Card. Your citizenship status needs to be changed to American after you’ve obtained your Certificate of Naturalization.

How to Update Your SSN After Getting a Green Card

An SSN is like your identity, which is used as a verification tool by various organizations. But life changes and so does information. People getting married or divorced often have to change their SSC accordingly to reflect their name change, among other things.

To update your SSN after getting a Green Card, you need to visit your nearest Social Security Administration office and fill out the SS-5 form, which is the “Application for Social Security Card.” This single form contains 18 items. You need to provide supporting documents to prove your age, citizenship status, and identity.

My Social Security Online Portal

If you think going through this will be time-consuming, the good news is that the process of updating your SSN has gotten better and easier. You can use the online portal called “My Social Security” and request a replacement card as long as you’re not asking to make any changes and simply need a replacement card. You can use the same login credentials that were provided to you.

While most states offer online SSC replacement, services are not provided in states like Alabama, Connecticut, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Additionally, if your SSN was issued by territories like American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you’re not eligible for an online application and have to do it by physically visiting the office.

If You Requested an SSN When You Applied for Your Visa

You can apply for your Social Security Card even before you land in the U.S. at the time of applying for your Green Card. This is usually recommended and is the best way to get an SSN as an outsider. When you’re filling out Form DS-230, which is for the immigrant visa and alien registration, you need to agree to questions 33a and 33b.

33a confirms that you’re requesting an SSN along with your Green card. The Department of State will coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security to provide you with a unique SSN upon your arrival in the United States. 33b explicitly grants permission to both of those organizations to collect and request the relevant information. You should receive your SSN within three weeks of landing in the U.S.

If You Did Not Request an SSN When You Applied for Your Visa

If, for whatever reason, you chose not to apply for an SSN at the time of filing Form DS-230, then you can still get an SSN after coming to the United States. You’re required to an SSN office with your visa, passport, and permanent resident card. It should get processed within two weeks. If you’re planning to move to a new location, then notify the authorities accordingly.

Social Security Number FAQ

Below are some commonly asked questions about SSN’s.

Why should I apply for a Social Security Number?

An SSN enables you to enjoy social security benefits in the United States. As you work in the U.S. you’ll pay Social Security taxes and receive credit for it. After roughly 10 years of service or so, you can use it to get the benefits when you are the proper age.

Furthermore, an SSN is used as your identification. Your employer will use it to check your eligibility and some companies or organizations will ask for it for the account creation process. Legally, you’re required to be and remain registered with the U.S. government.

Do Green Card holders get Social Security Cards?

Yes, once you obtain your Green Card, the USCIS will mail you your new Social Security Card. Your SSN allows you to work in the United States, pay taxes, and conduct business with financial institutions. It is essential to have an SSN while living in the U.S.

Why is it important to keep the Social Security Number private?

The information contained within the SSC, including the SSN, is sensitive in nature. Consider it as your tracking number. The IRS uses it for processing tax returns. You’re not supposed to disclose it and are not required to carry the card everywhere either.

This number can be easily misused if fallen into the wrong hands. It can be used to access your bank accounts, credit reports, and tax information without your consent. Therefore, treat the privacy of your SSN and SSC with the utmost care and never disclose it over the phone or email unless completely sure that you’re dealing with the right people.

Are SSN and Medicare the same?

An SSN shouldn’t be confused with Medicare. Both federal services are completely different and not interrelated. An SSN provides social security benefits, while Medicare provides health insurance for those older than 65 years of age.

Why do I need to update my Social Security Card after citizenship/naturalization?

Once you become a U.S. citizen, you’re legally required to update your Social Security Card. Your citizenship status needs to be changed to American after you’ve obtained your Certificate of Naturalization.

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Final Thoughts

As noted, it is important to update your SSN after getting a Green Card. Take the right steps and make the most out of the benefits that you get to enjoy with an SSN.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.