The Importance of Your Social Security Number

Every person residing in the US knows that they have a Social Security Number, and if they were born here, chances are, they've had it since birth. Most people understand that they need their social security number to get a job, but outside of that, it just seems like a random identification number. But what is a Social Security number really used for? Is it really something vital to keep track of? The answer is yes, and I'll explain why. 

Let me start my defining the number. A social security number is a unique number issued to all US Citizens, permanent residents, and certain foreign nationals. The first social security number was issued in November of 1935, and has continued ever since. Within 3 months, 25 million social security numbers were issued. No number has ever been repeated. The number itself consists of 3 groups of digits: XXX-XX-XXX. The first three digits indicate the area of residence when social security card was first issued, which is usually the place you were born, or the first place you lived after moving to the US. However, social security numbers issued after 2011 will no longer have area significance, and will be randomized. The middle two numbers, ranging from 01 to 99, breaks the series, and is basically used to expand the number of possible social security numbers. The final four digits, ranging from 0001 to 9999, represent a straight numerical progression of assigned numbers. By combining these 3 groups of numbers, your individual social security number is generated. 

Your social security number has several uses. It tracks all working individuals for taxation purposes and yearly wages, traces your entire credit history, reports your wage to the government, keeps track of payroll deductions for old age, survivors, and disability insurance, and most importantly, checks your eligibility for Social Security Benefits. Some institutions even use your social security number as your student ID. 

Without your social security number, there is no way for the government to verify if you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. It is the best way to track your work, credit, and taxation history. 

The application process for a US Citizen is different than a non-US citizen.

A US citizen needs the following to apply for a Social Security number:
  • A completed SS-5 Form
  • Proof of Citizenship in the form of a birth certificate, passport, certificate of naturalization, or certificate of citizenship
  • Proof of Age: A birth certificate or passport will fulfill this
  • Proof of Identity: The preferred form is a driver's license or passport, but an employee ID card, School ID card, Health Insurance card, US military ID card, or Adoption Decree will work as well.
A non-US citizen will need:
  • A completed SS-5 Form
  • Documents to prove your Immigration status & Work Eligibility: I-94 Form (Arrival/Departure Record)
  • Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) if you are an F-1 or M-1 student
  • Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) if you are a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor
  • Proof of Age in the form of a birth certificate
  • Proof of Identity via either: Form I-551 (includes machine-readable immigrant visa with your unexpired foreign passport), I-94 with your unexpired foreign passport, or your work permit card from the Department of Homeland Security (I-766 or I-688B)
Remember, all documents must be originals or certified copies by the issuing agency, otherwise the social security office will be unable to validate them as a form of proof.

The processing time for you application may take several weeks, but you may work in the meantime with a letter from the Social Security office. If you are just recognizing the importance of your social security number, and realize you have lost your card, you may be wondering how to replace your social security card. The answer is simple because you basically follow the same process as applying for it in the first place. You'll need the same forms and types of proof to have your Social Security Card reissued.

Here at the Coye Law Firm, our attorneys specialize in cases dealing with social security disability disputes. If you need assistance with that, or any other legal matter, contact us for a consultation.