July 26, 2021

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How to Get a Replacement Social Security Card During This Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security offices are only open for in-person appointments for limited, critical situations. If you need a replacement Social Security card, your best options are to apply online or by mail.

However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) advises that “[b]efore requesting a replacement card, please remember that you might not need the physical card. Most of the time, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.”

If you have a critical situation that requires you to have a physical card and you don’t need any changes to your Social Security Number record (such as a name or date of birth change), applying for a replacement card online is your most convenient option. You can use the SSA’s online application if you are an adult, have a state-issued drivers’ license or non-driver identification card, and live in the District of Columbia or one of the 45 states that verifies state-issued documents for the SSA (Illinois and Indiana are among those 45 states.). All you need to do is create a My Social Security account to access and complete the online application.

If you are applying by mail, the SSA requires proof of your identity with your replacement card application, usually a state-issued drivers’ license or non-driver identification card, or U.S. passport. These documents are “primary” identity proofs. However, because mailing primary identity proofs with a replacement card application can be challenging, the SSA is temporarily expanding its policy to accept alternative identity documents—or what is called “secondary proofs”.

Acceptable secondary proofs include, but are not limited to:

  • Employee identification card.
  • School identification card.
  • Health insurance card (not a Medicare card).
  • U.S. military identification card.

These proofs must be current (not expired), show your name, and identifying information (such as your date of birth or age), and be an original or a certified copy.

If you need to change your name, when you mail your replacement card application, you will need to submit proof of identity plus proof of the name change. The proof of identity can be primary or secondary proof. Proof of the name change could be a marriage certificate, divorce decree, Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name, or a court order approving the name change.

You may be able to submit one document to serve as proof of your name change and identity. For example, you may submit a marriage certificate as proof of name change and identity if the certificate shows the marriage occurred within the prior two years and:

  • Includes your prior name.
  • Includes your age, birth date or parents’ names.
  • This information matches your Social Security Number record.

The SSA will return any documents you send.