How to Get a Child’s Social Security Card and Number

How to Get a Child's Social Security Card and Number

In the US, it is mandatory for everyone to possess a Social Security Number and Card. As the SSN is the federal government’s way of identifying each individual living in the US. Social Security Number is a unique number in the United States and every citizen is expected to have one. The process of getting a number for a newborn is relatively easy and starts at the hospital where the baby is born. If you live in the United States and are expecting a newborn then you will need to apply for one to claim any child-related tax breaks ( for eg: dependent exemption, child tax credit), add your child to any health insurance plans, set up a bank account or savings account or to apply for any government benefits.

The process of applying for a Social Security Number and Card is relatively simple and one just has to follow the guidance. If you need any information to make an application for a number and card, read on to find the complete guide on how to get a Social Security Number (SSN) for newborns in the United States of America.

What Is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number that is issued to the citizens, temporary residents, and permanent residents of the United States of America. This unique number is issued by the Social Security Administration which is an independent agency of the United States government. Originally, the concept was conceived to track individuals within the country. However, over time it became the primary national identification number for taxation and all other purposes. The process of applying for a new Social Security Card for a child is simple and free. It is an easy process that requires one to complete a few details and submit a few documents that confirm identity.

Why Does Your Child Need One?

Your baby is dependent on you and it is mandatory and important for you to add your child to your income tax returns to avail of eligible benefits. This is one of the reasons your baby needs a Social Security Number. There are several more that make it important for your child to have Social Security Number and Card. Following are some of the reasons why you need to get your newborn a Social Security Number:

  • If you wish to open a bank account for your baby.
  • If you intend to buy savings bonds for the baby.
  • If you need to add your baby to your medical coverage plans or insurance cover.
  • If you need to apply for any government services for your baby.

Applying for a Social Security Number is absolutely free and you can get guidance from your nearest local Social Security Office.

How to Apply for Your Child’s Social Security Number

Applying for the Social Security Number for your baby is easy. You need to provide evidence of your identity and also your baby’s identity. You also have to submit several acceptable documents that confirm a few details during this process. The following are the steps to apply for a Social Security Number if you have a child in the hospital in the United States:

  • Completing a birth registration form. The form has a box to check and you would need to provide the Social Security Numbers of both parents. Most hospitals distribute the birth registration form to the expecting mother.
  • While completing the form, tick the option for applying for a Social Security Number.
  • Provide the Social Security Numbers of both parents. In case you do not have both, you can provide just one. Submitting just one number also validates your application.

Social security number form

Once the agency receives your documents, the Social Security Number for your child will be sent via mail.

If for some reason you did not have your baby in the hospital or did not get a form to complete, you can visit your local Social Security Administrative office and request it in person. Below are the steps that you would need to follow:

  • Complete Form SS-5 and provide the necessary details.
  • Submit at least two documents that provide your baby’s identity, citizenship status, and age. Your baby’s birth certificate must be one of the documents. The other could be hospital birth record or any medical record.
  • Proof of your own identity. This could be either your driving license or passport.
  • Search your nearest Social Security Administrative office and submit the documents personally or via email.  If submitting via email, you will need to send original or certified copies of all documents that confirm your identity and your baby’s.

Once the application is submitted, you will receive a Social Security Card in 6-12 weeks. If you make an application after your child has completed one year of age, it will take longer to get a card. In this instance, the Social Security Administrative agency will contact the state for vital statistics and seek confirmation of the birth certificate to check for any fraud.

How to Get SSN for an Adopted Child?

If the child being adopted is already a citizen of the United States, then there is a chance they already have a Social Security Number and Card. However, if you are adopting a child domestically and if he/she does not have one, you would need to obtain an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) to claim the related benefits while the process of adoption is pending. You would need to complete an IRS Form W-7A (ATIN) for adoptions that are pending in the United States. The ATIN is valid for two years and can be extended if the adoption is not through yet. Once the adoption is through, you can get a Social Security Number for your child by following the above procedure. You would need to complete the form and submit it to your local Social Security Administrative Office.

If you are adopting a child from a different country, then you will have to wait until the adoption is final and the child has entered into the United States to obtain a Social Security Number. You can then complete the form and submit it with the required documents to your local Social Security Administrative office. You can only make an application once all the formalities have been completed and the child has entered the United States of America.

Procedure for Replacement of Social Security Card for a Child

You could by no fault of yours lose or misplace the Social Security Card of your child. There is no reason to fret as the process of reapplying for the same is simple and easy. If you have lost the social security card for your child, then follow the below steps to re-apply for one:

1. Gather the following documents for proof

  • The document confirming the identity of the child ( birth certificate).
  • Proof of US citizenship for the child.
  • A document detailing the immigration status of the child if the child is not a citizen of the United States.

2. Gather the documents relating to proof of your identity

  • Driving license or passport.
  • Custody papers if the child is adopted or proof of relationship with the child.

3. Complete the application form SS-5 for a Social Security card.

4. Send the completed form along with the original or certified documents via mail or in-person to the local Social Security Office.

Social security number and card in the US

How Long Does It Take to Get a Baby’s SSN?

Each state or jurisdiction has its own processing times for an application. The following link details the processing times for applications in different states. If you have not received the card within the stipulated time then you can contact your local Social Security Office or call on 1-800-772-1213 between 8 am to 5.30 pm. Every application for a Social Security Number takes about 10-15 business days to complete. It is advisable to check the waiting times on the link given before you follow up on your application.

What Can You Do As Parents If You Don’t Receive Your Child’s SSN in Stipulated Time?

For a newborn’s Social Security Card status check, you need to contact your local Social Security Office by checking on this link. You can also call the national helpline on 1-800-772-1213 to speak to an advisor. Every hospital routinely provides the paperwork necessary to get a Social Security Number issued to a newborn child. If you have completed the form and sent the necessary paperwork, you should get your child’s card within 10-15 working days from the date when your application is processed. Do not reapply unless the Social Security Administration needs you to do so. Make sure you check the status of your application before contacting the Social Security Administration before reapplying.

In case the Social Security Administration asks you to refill and gives you instructions to reapply, you can find the form and the guide online here. Applying or reapplying for a Social Security Number does not entail any cost. Please be cautious to not give into scams sent via email or phone that urge you to sign up to get a Social Security Number and Card for a fee.

Social Security Number and Card are a mandatory requirement for every citizen in the United States of America. It is advisable to apply one for your newborn soon after their birth as you will be able to claim your tax benefits, apply for eligible benefits, open bank accounts and saving accounts and also add your child to your medical cover. Once you have applied for the number you can ensure that your child’s records are complete and the federal government has all their details in their database. By securing a Social Security Number you are making sure that your child is governed by the laws of the United States of America.