Retrieving a Social Security number requires contacting the Social Security office and presenting proof of identity. A driver's license and birth certificate are sufficient proof of identity to retrieve Social Security number information or file for a new number if no Social Security number was ever assigned. A Social Security number is needed get a job, file taxes and do other important tasks in the United States.
U.S. Social Security numbers were originally issued to citizens in 1935 as a part of a new Social Security program designed to track individuals and their incomes. The number has since become the default method of identification for employment and tax payment.
Social Security numbers were originally only required once a person reached a sufficient age, but as of 1990, the practice of applying for an SSN for a child along with their birth certificate has become standard. This enables parents to list their children on their tax returns.
Other countries have comparable forms of government-issued numerical identification, with a variety of accepted uses. One example is the National Health Index number used in New Zealand. An NHI number identifies New Zealand residents in a similar way as a Social Security number in the United States.