Guide to SS-5 Form in the U.S.

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The SS-5 form is used to apply for a Social Security card.
  • It is required for first-time applicants, lost/damaged cards, name changes, or changes in citizenship status.
  • The form has 18 sections and must be accompanied by supporting documents.
  • Submission methods include in-person at a Social Security office or by mail, taking approximately 10 business days.

Form SS-5 is among the many forms offered by the Social Security Administration. But not everybody will be filing it. In this article, we’ll explain who needs to file Form SS-5 and the steps involved. 

What Is an SS-5 Form?

SS-5 is the form provided by the Social Security Administration for issuing a Social Security card to anyone applying for it. The form can be identified by looking at the top where it says “Social Security Administration: Application for a Social Security Card.”

It is filled out by both United States citizens and non-citizens who are eligible to get a Social Security card. And as you might know, a Social Security card and number are extremely important for many government and private processes.

Who Needs an SS-5 Form?

SS-5 is reserved specifically for those looking to obtain a Social Security card. If you fall into any of these categories, you can file an SS-5 form:

  • You never had a Social Security card of your own and are getting it for the first time. This can be because you never applied for it before and need it now for a job, or your parents never applied on your behalf.
  • Your Social Security card was lost, stolen, or damaged, and you need a new one issued.
  • Your name was legally changed because of marriage or other circumstances.
  • Your citizenship status changed.
  • There is an error on your existing card, like a misspelling or incorrect birth date, and you want a new card with the correct information.
  • You recently gave birth or adopted a child and want a Social Security card for them. This will allow you to claim the child as a legal dependent on your tax return, open a savings bank account in their name, or various other tasks.
  • You are responsible for an adult-dependent who does not have a Social Security card or number. You need one for them so you can claim government benefits and manage their finances.

How to Fill out Form SS-5

Filling out the form is relatively easy. It is a two-page document with 18 sections. Instructions are printed alongside the questions wherever required. Here are the 18 sections asked in the form:

  1. Name (Full name at birth, also enter any other names you are identified by or are printed on the social security card)
  2. Social Security Number (only for people who previously held one, N/A for new applicants)
  3. Place of Birth (City and state/country)
  4. Date of Birth
  5. Citizenship (There are four options which are U.S. Citizen, legal alien allowed to work, legal alien not allowed to work, and other)
  6. Ethnicity
  7. Race (There are seven options)
  8. Sex
  9. Mother’s name and her SSN
  10. Father’s name and his SSN
  11. This section confirms whether you or anyone acting on your behalf has filed or received an SSN before
  12. If that’s the case, the name printed on that SSN
  13. Enter a different DOB if used on an earlier application for a card
  14. Today’s date (date of filing)
  15. Daytime Phone Number
  16. Mailing Address
  17. Signature
  18. Your relationship to the person you’re filing for in Item 1

Other sections are to be left blank and are intended for official purposes by the SSA.

Required Documents for Form SS-5

Besides filling out Form SS-5, you will be asked to submit documents that will supplement or support the information you have provided. These documents will be used to prove your age, identity, and status of citizenship, among other details. Here are the documents most commonly asked for by the SSA for processing your application:

  • U.S. passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • State-issued ID card

For non-residents, here are the document requirements:

If you don’t have any of these documents on hand, it is advised you get them. Photocopies and notarized copies aren’t accepted, and the SSA won’t entertain your case as an exception.

Where to Submit Form SS-5

There are two ways of submitting your Form SS-5 and documents. Either mail them to the desired SSA office or walk into the office in person. An online portal is available, but currently, online services are limited to people looking to update their card or be issued a new one because the old one got damaged.

If you haven’t applied before, it’s best to walk into the office with your documents. This is because you’d have to submit the original copies. If you send them by mail, you risk losing them since they can get lost in the process, and the courier company won’t be responsible for it.

When you visit the office in person, you ensure your documents are safe and are transferred to the officer in charge. If you mail them, you’d have to wait days, if not weeks, to hear back about the delivery.

Next Steps

Once you’re done with the filing work and have submitted all your documents, you’re required to wait at least 10 business days to hear back from the SSA. After 10 days or so, the SSA will confirm the issuance of your new Social Security card, which will be mailed to your registered address. After you receive the card, it is your responsibility to keep it safe.

How to Locate Your Social Security Office

The Social Security Administration has branches spread all across the country. Most likely, the office where you’re required to submit is the one located nearest to you. To locate the nearest social security office, you can use the Social Security Office Locator.

Simply put in your ZIP code and hit “Locate.” You can also search for services outside of the United States if you need to. The portal is easy to use and works across all web browsers.

Replacing Damaged, Lost, or Stolen Cards

As already mentioned, you have to apply for a new Social Security card if your previous card is stolen, damaged, or lost. You can do so online by logging into the SSA portal with “my Social Security” account. Alternatively, you can mail the form or visit the office in person to submit.

But there’s a limit: you can apply for a maximum of three replacements in a calendar year and 10 in your lifetime.

Replacements Due to a Name Change

If your name was changed legally, this should be reflected on your Social Security card. The process for this is the same as the previous case: fill it out online with “my Social Security” account or walk into the office. But in addition, you’ll be asked for a certified copy of your marriage license or document showcasing your name change.

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If you’re applying for the first time, an interview will be scheduled where officials will make sure that you have never been issued an SSN before. In other cases, an interview is not required. If you still have questions, we advise you to get in touch with an attorney.

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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.

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