What is a Social Security Card? Your social security card is a small document that serves an important purpose. With it, you can prove your identity, manage your tax information, and obtain key government benefits.
Because it’s such an important document, many people come to wonder how long their social security card is good for.
So, do social security cards expire? Keep reading for everything you need to know.
Your social security card is a vital component of your personal identification documents. The card features two pieces of identifying information:
Your social security number is a unique, nine-digit number that’s issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).1 Aside from assigning social security numbers, the SSA manages an array of important social services, like disbursing retirement and disability benefits to eligible Americans.
If you were born in the United States, your SSN was issued to you at birth—your parents likely applied for it when they registered you for your birth certificate.
In some cases, however, social security numbers are issued to people who were not born in the United States. For example, a person may be eligible for a social security number if they fall into one of the following two categories:2
Here’s your Social Security number breakdown, and what they mean.
But does your SSN expire? No. Once an SSN has been issued, it’s yours for life. Even if you lose your card or if other details of your personal information change, your social security number will stay the same.
Social security numbers were introduced in 1936 as a way for the SSA to monitor the earnings of individual workers in the United States, information that was largely used to calculate social security benefits.3
These days, your social security card is still linked to your financial information and your social security entitlements, but it’s come to fulfill a variety of other functions as well. For example, you’ll likely be asked to show your social security card or provide your social security number when you:
Due to the increased breadth of applications that SSNs are used for, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have your social security card and know where it is at all times.
The average U.S. citizen has more than a few personal identification documents, many of which are subject to expiration dates. For example, your driver’s license needs to be renewed every few years as determined by the laws in your state. Likewise, passports issued by the United States expire every ten years.
But do social security cards expire? And if so, when do social security cards expire?
If you look at your card, you’ll see that there is no SSN card expiration date listed. This is because social security cards do not expire. Just like the 9-digit number it records, once you receive your social security card, it’s yours for the rest of your life.
Although social security cards do not expire, there are a few situations when a person may need to have their card replaced. You may need to obtain a replacement social security card if:
Just like with new cards, replacement social security cards are issued by the Social Security Administration. To obtain a replacement card, you’ll first need to complete and submit an official application with the SSA.4 Can I order a new Social Security card online?
The application for a replacement card can be accessed and submitted via the SSA’s website or completed by hand and turned in to your local social security office. For applications that are completed in person, you’ll need to present a few documents to verify your identity, age, and citizenship status. Acceptable forms of the required documentation generally include:5
In certain cases, alternative identification documents may be accepted. These may include hospital birth records, religious records that prove your date of birth, or other forms of photo identification like employee or student IDs or health insurance cards.
Remember that if your social security card has been lost or stolen, you should take the appropriate steps to check for identity theft, as well as replacing your card.
When you need a replacement social security card, time is of the essence. Fortunately, you can save time by using GOV+. Our online platform simplifies the process of replacing your social security card, sparing you a trip to the social security office and eliminating long lines, hold times, and filing errors. Get started with GOV+ today.
1. S.S. Office Location. Can a Social Security Card Expire? https://ssofficelocation.com/resources/can-a-social-security-card-expire/
2. Study in the States. Obtaining a Social Security Number. https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/work/obtaining-a-social-security-number#
3. Social Security Administration. The Story of the Social Security Number. https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v69n2/v69n2p55.html#
4. Social Security Administration. How do I apply for a replacement Social Security Card online? https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-02017
5. Social Security Administration. Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card. https://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm