A copy of Social Security application form SS-5 is required to apply for a Social Security card and can be found in the forms section of the Social Security Administration's website. It may also be used to apply for a replacement card or to request a change in a person's record.
In addition to the SS-5, an applicant must submit valid identification showing age and proof of U.S. citizenship or legal alien status. Instructions for completing the form are attached, and Social Security office administrators can assist with filling it out if the applicant delivers it in person. The completed form, along with certified copies of valid identification, can also be mailed to the applicant's local district office. Photocopies or notarized copies are not accepted. Some businesses charge a fee for Social Security cards; however, it is free to apply directly with the SSA.
All U.S. citizens and legal residents require a valid nine-digit Social Security number in order to work legally and track wages. Social Security numbers are also used to maintain records for benefits purposes. Although the number is used to track many things, the card itself does not need to be presented often and it's advisable to keep the card in a safe place with other important papers.