How to Replace a Social Security Card for a Child

By Mary Vaughan
Apply quickly to replace a child's lost Social Security card.
Apply quickly to replace a child's lost Social Security card.

Your child's lost or stolen Social Security card can be replaced free of charge, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. Replacement cards are limited to three per year and a limit of 10 during your child's lifetime. Legal name changes or changes in immigration status that require card updates do not count toward the limits. Replace your child’s Social Security card soon after it is lost or stolen because banks, government agencies and health insurance companies may ask for the card if you apply for services for your child. Your child's new card will have the same name and number as the previous card.

Download and print the Application for a Social Security Card Form SS-5 (see Resources). Fill out the form carefully -- your entries must be legible -- and sign. Use black or blue ink only.

Select your child’s proof of ID according to Social Security Administration guidelines, which require an original document showing the child’s name, biographical info and a recent photograph. Additionally, provide proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship if not already established with the Social Security Administration or if your child is a foreign-born U.S. citizen. If your child is not a U.S. citizen, provide the I-94 document proving his immigration status.

Locate a document for proof of one parent's identity. Acceptable documents include current U.S. driver's license, state-issued non driver ID card or U.S. passport. Acceptable substitutions include employee ID card, school ID card, health insurance card (not Medicare card) or U.S. military ID card. Parents who are not U.S. citizens must provide their current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document. Acceptable DHS documents include Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport), I-94 Arrival-Departure record with your unexpired foreign passport, or DHS work permit card (I-766 or I688B).

Take or mail the completed application and all original documents to your local Social Security office (see Resources). All documents will be returned to you. If you have questions, contact the U.S. Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.

Wait an average of two weeks after your application and supporting documents have been processed. Your child’s new card will be sent to you by mail.

Tip

Your child does not need to accompany you to the Social Security office, unless her picture ID does not show biographical information. A document without your child’s photo (adoption decree, medical or religious record) is acceptable if it includes the child’s name, date of birth or parents’ names. Documents accepted as proof of U.S. citizenship include U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. Never carry your child’s Social Security with you. Store it in a safe place.

Warning

All documents submitted as proof of identity and/or citizenship must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency.

About the Author

Mary Vaughan began her writing career in 1985. Her work has been published in "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine, "L.A. Parent Magazine" and "Seattle's Child" magazine. Vaughan's long-running "The Mother Side of Town" column focused on the everyday challenges of parenting and money management. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology-speech and hearing science from the University of Missouri.