How to Replace Your Lost Social Security Card

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Although there likely aren’t too many occasions in your life when you’ll need to have a physical copy of your Social Security card on hand, there are several that are quite important. You need a Social Security card when you’re starting a new job and when you’re ready to retire — and you might need it in other situations you aren’t even anticipating yet. It’s a wise idea to have a copy of your card accessible far in advance of a new job or your retirement, but, thankfully, the process of getting a new card is relatively simple.

If you need to replace your Social Security card, getting your new copy might only take a few clicks of your computer mouse. There’s a clear process for replacing your card, and you can even take care of the task from the comfort of home. Here’s how to get started.

Can You Order a Replacement Social Security Card Online?

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If you lose your Social Security card, you can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to get a new one. This government agency handles issuing (and re-issuing) Social Security cards, and it also oversees the disbursement of Social Security benefits to people who reach retirement age. 

In all states except for Alaska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and West Virginia, you can order a replacement Social Security card online through the mySocialSecurity website. To create an account, visit, a secure website that allows you to create a user account you can use to access multiple government agencies. The process starts with providing your email address. The SBA and the TSA are two other agencies that use 

It’s important to note that there are requirements for using the online replacement option. You must be over 18, and the SSA will only mail a Social Security card to an address in the United States. You can also receive a replacement card if your address is deliverable by a fleet, diplomatic or army post office. Finally, you also need some form of official identification issued by a U.S. state. Most people use their driver’s license, but other forms of identification, such as a passport or military ID card, will work. Three states — Delaware, Nevada and Wisconsin — only extend the online replacement option to people who have a driver’s license. 

How to Order a Replacement Social Security Card

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Once you’re signed in to your mySocialSecurity account, click on the link that says “Replace Your Social Security Card.” You then need to answer questions to verify your identity and process the request. The online form asks for details about the driver’s license or state-issued identification you use. You’ll also answer multiple-choice questions to prove your identity. These questions ask about topics that only you are likely to know the answers to, such as childhood addresses, cars you’ve owned in the past and addresses of close relatives. Finally, you need to verify your name, birth date and Social Security number. 

If your location, age or personal circumstances make you ineligible for ordering a replacement card online, you can complete the application for a Social Security card by making the appropriate selections for a replacement card rather than an original one. The form explains the applicable documents you can supply to verify your identity. To submit the form, you can either bring it to your local Social Security field office or mail it to the appropriate branch of the SSA.

You can only use the online portal for replacing a Social Security card. If you need to change your Social Security card information, there’s a separate process. For example, if you want your Social Security card to reflect your new legal name, you’ll apply to make a change rather than applying for a replacement card. 

To make a change, complete the standard application for a Social Security card, and follow the instructions for submitting documents proving both the name you used to have and your new name. Rather than submitting this information online, you need to either visit a Social Security field office or mail your application and the documents to the SSA. If you send your documents through the mail, the agency will mail them back to you once you’re verified. 

If you need to mail in documents as part of your process, remember that the SSA discourages the mailing of driver’s licenses and passports. The administration can’t guarantee the safety of your documents in the mail. It also can’t guarantee a turnaround time for processing and returning your documents. Rather, there are drop boxes and schedules for interviews that may be available if your local field office isn’t fully open to the public. 

Do You Need a Replacement Card?

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If you lose your Social Security card, there are two primary concerns. First, you need to think about where it could possibly be lost. If you keep your Social Security card at home, it may still be there — and it’s less likely to have gotten into the wrong hands. But if you have the habit of traveling with your Social Security card, perhaps in a wallet or a purse, there’s a possibility your card could’ve been stolen or found by someone unscrupulous. 

Anyone who has access to your Social Security card has your full name and Social Security number. These are key pieces of information necessary to commit identity theft. Ordering a replacement card won’t protect you from that threat. If you believe someone is using your Social Security number, place a fraud alert on your credit report and inform the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security Administration. And even if you don’t need to order a new card at this time, make sure you know where your Social Security card is — and keep it in a safe place.

Unless you’re starting a job or leaving the workforce, there are few instances in life when you need to physically present your Social Security card. For things like taxes and loan applications, you only need to provide your Social Security number rather than the card itself. The Social Security Administration acknowledges that many people can safely go through life without replacing a lost Social Security card. Even if you don’t have a current need for a replacement card, it’s wise to start ordering a new one far before you need it to ensure delays and other events don’t interfere with your use of the card.