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The 3 Most Common Types of Social Security Cards
People often wonder about the different kinds of Social Security cards. Is there just one SS card or many? It’s a good question and the answer is surprising. The Social Security Administration issues what it calls three different categories of cards: new, replacement and name-change. What type of Social Security card is right for you? Discover the answer to that question by exploring the descriptions of each card type.
New Social Security Cards:
New Social Security card applicants must remember to fill out the SS-5 form exactly right, include all required original (or certified copies of original) documents and send the application packet to the proper SSA address. Filling out forms at a SS office actually slows the process by several days because the local offices don’t mail them to the national processing center immediately.
Each application for a new card must contain an SS-5 form, proof of citizenship, proof of identity and proof of age. The SSA will accept several types of documentation to prove age, identity and citizenship (or legal right-to-work status). Some documents can act as proof for one or two of the criteria. For example, a U.S. passport can act as proof of citizenship and age. But applicants must include at least two documents in total.
Examples of documents that prove age include birth certificates, passports, religious records (in some cases). Documents accepted for proof of citizenship or immigration status proof include a birth certificate, U.S. passport, form I-94, form I-766, form I-551. Documents for proof of identity include a driver license, a non-driver state-issued ID card, a U.S. passport, employee ID card, school ID card, U.S. military ID card, a health insurance card (but not a Medicare card).
Getting a replacement card is not as complicated as obtaining a new card because, presumably, SSA already has your records in their database from your original card. That’s why the SSA only requires two things for a replacement card: proof of identity and proof of U.S. citizenship.
People apply for name-change cards after a court-order has been issued for a legal name change, after marriage, and after a divorce. Compared to new Social Security cards, name-change cards are a relatively straightforward request that don’t require too much documentation. Still, everything must be filled out perfectly and the proper documents included, or else the application will be rejected and you have to start all over.
Name-change applicants must include the SS-5 form, and at least one document showing the new name (like a court decree, marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by a court). Applicants for name-change cards should be aware that the new card will contain the same Social Security number. Only the name will be different.
How Long Will It Take?
It’s no surprise that the most common question people ask Social Security representatives is “How long do I have to wait for a new or replacement card?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but when applicants get everything right, send the packet to the correct address and have included all the required original documents, then a new card can be in the mail in as little as two weeks.
That is the minimum, and typically pertains to replacement and name-change cards. Brand new Social Security cards tend to take longer because SSA must create a fresh file for the new applicant. Replacement and name-change applicants are already in the SSA database, so things move along a bit more quickly.