Most documents that we are familiar with have an expiration date. For instance, your driver’s license expires every few years, and you must renew your license to keep it valid. It can also be a huge headache when you need a document for important business only to find out that it has expired. You then must get a new copy of the document, and it delays the original task that you were trying to accomplish. But what about Social Security cards? Do they expire, and if so, how long do they last? We will give you all the details about Social Security cards including whether they expire and how to get a new one.
Do Social Security Cards Expire?
No, your Social Security card never expires. It is valid for your lifetime and has no expiration date. Your card displays your Social Security number, so it is an extremely important document that you should always keep in a safe place. Once you are assigned a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration (SSA), that number will stay with you for life. New identification numbers are only assigned in extremely rare cases of fraud that makes it impossible for a person to keep their same SSN.
If you see a date printed on your card, do not panic. This is not an expiration date. Some newer cards have a date of issuance printed below the signature line. This simply shows when the card was issued to you. Although your card never expires, there might be other reasons that you need to get a new card. Those reasons will be discussed in more detail in the next section. Simply having an old, worn card is no reason to worry about getting a new one. That old card will still be valid.
Reasons To Obtain A New Card
So, if your Social Security card never expires, then why would you ever need to get a new one? There are a few reasons why this might occur. First, you can request a new card if yours is lost or stolen. This is one of the most common reasons for requesting a replacement card. Perhaps your card is not completely lost, but it becomes illegible due to age or other wear. In this case, you would also need to get a replacement Social Security card.
Another common reason to get a new card is due to a name change. People who get married frequently need a new Social Security card displaying their new name. You might also need to update your card if key information associated with your SSN changes. For example, if you need to update your date of birth or gender with the Social Security Administration, then a new SSN card might need to be issued.
How To Get A New Social Security Card
Many people wonder how to get a Social Security card. In many cases, a replacement card can be requested online. You can access your mySocialSecurity account online through SSA.gov. If you have simply lost your card, then you can quickly and easily request a Social Security card replacement through this process. You can also request new Medicare cards online now. If you choose to visit your local Social Security office to complete this process, you will need to bring along your proof of identity documents. This can be in the form of a birth certificate, driver’s license, or other photo ID card. Though they do not issue temporary Social Security cards, they will provide a receipt of your request which can act as a temporary card. You should note, however, that your local office may be closed currently due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
If you are changing information on your card, then the process will require additional documentation even if doing it online. To change your name, you will need a marriage certificate. You might also wish to update your immigration status or U.S. citizenship status. This can be extremely important since Social Security cards are often used as an identification card for work authorization purposes when completing a Form I-9.
Getting a new card is not difficult, but it requires you to have all your documentation in order. If you need to visit your SSA office to get a new card, keep these tips in mind. First, you should gather all your documentation. You will need proof of your identity. Acceptable documents include your birth certificate, driver’s license, or state-issued ID card. Immigration documents might also work if you are requesting your first card. Note that you will need to provide original documents. Photocopies are not acceptable.
Once you have those documents, you will need to complete a Form SS-5. This is the actual request for the replacement card. You will need to include your full name as it appears on your birth certificate along with the name that was shown on your latest Social Security card. Once you turn in your application, your new card will be mailed to you. You can expect to receive it within two to three weeks.
Remember that you can only request three new cards per calendar year and a total of 10 new cards over your lifetime. So, you should not simply request a new card because you think yours looks worn. Only make the request in cases where you absolutely need a new card for some valid reason.
Another thing to keep in mind is this. If you are not a U.S. citizen, then the SSA has special rules about obtaining a Social Security card. You must be either a green card holder, lawful permanent resident, need the card for noncitizen benefit purposes, or have work authorization in the United States. A card will not be issued simply for the purpose of obtaining a cell phone, bank account, mortgage, or other service.
Tips For Protecting Your Social Security Number (SSN)
Protecting your SSN is critical to protecting your identity and finances. Identity theft is increasing every day, so you should always make sure that you protect yourself as much as possible. Not keeping your SSN safe can affect your credit score and eligibility to get loans, credit cards, and other financial services. Start by not carrying your Social Security card everywhere you go. Only carry it with you when you will need it for identification purposes like applying for Social Security benefits or as an employment authorization document. Otherwise, store it in a safe and secure place at home.
Next, keep an eye on your credit report. This can help ensure that you immediately catch any potential fraud and work to address it right away. You might even choose to request a copy of your tax return records from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make sure that no one has filed fraudulent tax returns using your information. Finally, make sure that you regularly check your bank statements and other financial statements. You should immediately report and investigate any suspicious activity. Criminals often count on people not watching their records closely, so make sure that you are keeping a watchful eye on your bank accounts. Also, be aware of the many Social Security scams out there, and never share your SSN with anyone unless you can verify their identity.
The Bottom Line
Although Social Security cards never expire, there might be other reasons that card holders need to request a new one. If you have lost your card and need to prove your identity for employment eligibility, then you will need a new card. Perhaps your name has changed as the result of a marriage and your card needs to be updated. Whatever the case, requesting a new card is not difficult, but it does require some specific documentation. It also requires a trip to your local SSA office in many cases.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out when my Social Security number expires?
Your Social Security number never expires, so there is no SSN expiration date! Once your number is assigned to you, then you will keep that same number for life. In rare cases, someone might need a new number assigned after a severe case of fraud on their SSN. Otherwise, you will keep the same number throughout your lifetime. This is why it is extremely important to safeguard this number as much as possible.
What should I do if my Social Security card has been lost or stolen?
Many people ask, “What should I do if I lost my Social Security card?” First, if your card has been stolen, then you should report the theft to your local police. In addition, for a lost or stolen card, you should monitor your credit report to make sure that no suspicious activity occurs. You will also want to go ahead and request a replacement card. The process to get a replacement can take a few weeks in some cases, so make sure that you go ahead and do that right away.
What is the maximum age for a Social Security card?
There is no maximum age for a Social Security card. Your card and number will stay with you for life. If you have never had a card or SSN before, you can still request one if you qualify – regardless of your age. There is no age limit on requesting a Social Security number as long as you can provide the required documentation.