How to Get a Free, Same Day, Temporary Social Security Card Replacement

Does this scenario ring true? You are gearing up to start a new much needed job and you can’t find your Social Security card anywhere. Your prospective employer is requiring that you show them a Social Security card to meet I-9 requirements, what can you do?

In this post we will show you how to go about getting a same day Social Security card replacement to deal with emergencies such as mentioned above. We will also talk about what Social Security cards are and why they are so important.

What Is a Social Security Card?

All people who are eligible to work in the United States are required to have a Social Security number which they receive on a small card which also features their names. These cards are an important piece of identifying documentation and are vital for American workers.

The Social Security number is our unique tax number which allows the government to withhold Social Security taxes. These funds are designed to act as a safety net to supply income in the case of disability or for after retirement.

In November of 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal the first Social Security numbers were issued. Within three months some 25 million unique numbers had been issued.

On November 24th 1936, some 1074 of the nation's 45,000 post offices became typing centers to type out Social Security cards. These cards were then sent to Washington D.C. where on December 1st 1936 a special drawing took place.

The drawing saw Social Security Administration representative Joseph L. Fay choose an individual record at random. This record belonged to John David Sweeney Jr. of Rochelle, New York making him the first person to officially receive a Social Security number.

As the Social Security numbers were not issued in chronological order however Sweeney did not get the lowest one which would have been 001-01-0001. It was actually Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire that received that particular distinction.

Until 1986 the average person applied for their Social Security number around the age of 14 as it was required to be able to work in the United States. After 1986 tax reform dictated that those claiming dependents over the age of five in their taxes had to obtain a Social Security number for them.

This change was to make sure that taxpayers were not claiming more dependents than they actually had. Previous to this the tax agency simply trusted that people were being truthful. Today you need to supply Social Security for all dependents claimed so most parents apply for a Social Security card for their child soon after birth.

How to Get a Same Day Social Security Card Replacement

First things first, we should straight away acknowledge that there is no such thing as a same day Social Security card replacement. Please do not feel misled however as you do have some options that may help you still get what you need.

If you know your Social Security number you can set up a My Social Security account online. Through this you can request a replacement card without having to visit a physical location. This will however take about 10-14 business days to arrive at your address.

If you do not have two weeks to wait for a card then there is another option. You will have to attend a Social Security Agency office in person with documents that prove your identity. It is wise to print and complete Form SS-5 the application for a new card, prior to going to the office.

You should confirm whether or not you will need to make an appointment at the office or if you can walk in without one. During the pandemic most offices were requiring appointments and some may still be doing so.

If you need an appointment this could take longer than the wait time for applying online so it would become a judgment call at that point. If you can walk in then be prepared for a long wait and make sure you have all your documents ready.

You will need proof of identity to get a new Social Security card issued and this proof needs to be an original copy. Photocopies will not be accepted and you will be sent home to get the original if you do not have it with you.

If all goes well and the Social Security representative is willing to issue an order for a new card they will give you a receipt. This will show that you have requested a new card and should be receiving it soon. Depending on the situation this may be enough to satisfy the requirements you have.

This receipt is literally the best you can hope for until the new card comes in the mail in 10-14 days. It confirms that your application for a new card has been accepted and that you will have it soon.

Is There Such a Thing as a Temporary Social Security Card?

You may have been led to believe that there is such a thing as a temporary Social Security card but alas this is not true. Unlike bank cards, passports and state issued IDs Social Security cards never expire probably because there is no picture on them that would need to be updated as we age.

The sad irony is that the one form of ID that does not expire is the one made out of thin card stock and as such is prone to falling apart over time. Personally I think they should make more robust Social Security cards but I don’t sense they are willing to do so.

Generally speaking though there are only a few reasons you would ever need a new social security card:

  • Card is lost or stolen
  • Card has become unreadable
  • A legal change of name has taken place

As mentioned, the main reason you might need your physical Social Security card in a hurry is that your new employer needs not to prove your taxpayer status on an I-9. In this situation they may accept the receipt from having replied for a replacement card.

They obviously have no requirement to accept this receipt but hopefully they would be understanding that the original was lost. This receipt does confirm however that you have proven adequately to the Social Service agency that you are who you say you are. They may be willing to wait until you have the physical copy in hand but still allow you to begin work.

Officially speaking the receipt is an acceptable replacement document for I-9 purposes but of course if the receipt is old and pertains to a card you should have by now this may raise issues. Generally speaking the receipt is only valid for 90 days at most. If you do not have your new card by this point you will likely need to contact the Social Security Agency again.

Certain banking institutions may not accept the receipt as a replacement for a physical card so be aware of this. In this situation there are no other options but to wait for your replacement card in the mail or search again for the original.

How Do You Request a New Social Security Card?

There are two ways to request a new Social Security card the quickest of which by far is via online methods. As mentioned earlier those who have a My Social Security account can very easily request a replacement card.

It should be noted that not everyone can apply for a replacement online. You must be a U.S. citizen aged 18 years or older with an official U.S. mailing address. You also can not request changes when seeking a replacement; this would have to be done with different forms. You must be getting an identical replacement of the previous card for online purposes.

State issued forms of identity used to request a replacement must have been issued in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Documents from U.S. territories are not sufficient for a replacement Social Security card. You also must reside in a state that supports the online method. There are some that do not allow online applications.

The States which do not offer online applications are:

  • Oklahoma
  • Alaska
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia

If you do not have an online account but know your Social Security card number you can set up an account and still order your replacement online. However if you do not have an account, are non U.S. citizen or have forgotten your Social Security number you are left with just one option.

To request a replacement Social Security card in person you should first try to make an appointment at your closest Social Security Agency field office. You may not need an appointment but it’s advised that you get one to save you time at the location.

Prepare your application and documents prior to arriving at the Social Security Agency office so you are ready to move swiftly through the process. All documents must be originals as photocopies are not acceptable proof for a Social Security card reissue.

What Documents Do You Need for a New Social Security Card?

Social Security number fraud is a major issue in the United States so rightly so you need to prove who you are before the agency will issue you a replacement card. The exact requirements for ordering a replacement card are very dependent on the method you are using.

In the case of an online request you simply need your U.S. driver's license or state-issued identification card. You will need to scan this and upload it to your request via your My Social Security account. As you have to use your Social Security number to open the account you already have a certain level of proof attached to the application.

If you have to submit a written application due to not being eligible for the online option then the document requirements are a little more stringent. Principally you will need a document to confirm your citizenship in the United States. This is assuming you have not already done so previously with Social Security.

In the case of immigrants you may need to prove you are a lawful resident alien with clearance to work in the United States. This may require your green card or other immigration documents.

After establishing eligibility for a Social Security number you must prove your identity. Typically a U.S. issued passport or government issued ID such as a driver's license can achieve this. If you do not have these military IDs, health insurance cards and school IDs might be acceptable.

The requirements are that they show your legal name, date of birth and preferably have a recent photograph. The picture helps to confirm your identity to the Social Security agency representative.

As mentioned all documents must be original as photocopies are not accepted. Certain certified copies may be acceptable but only if certified by the relevant government agency. These documents must also be valid and not expired. Receipts of a document being issued such as driver's license having been issued are not accepted. You will have to wait until you have the physical license in hand.

What Should I Do If I Lose my Social Security Card?

The moment you realize you have lost your Social Security card you should immediately start the process of getting a new one. As mentioned it can take up to two weeks to receive a replacement so do not delay.

You never know when you might need that physical copy of the card so you should make sure you have it safe somewhere easy for you to locate. If the card is lost and may have fallen into the hands of others you may consider placing a fraud alert on your Social Security number.


Sadly you can not get a same day Social Security card replacement it will likely take at least 10 days to get a new copy. You can however if you apply in person get a receipt that may meet your requirements depending on what you need the card for.

Reference SSA Locator

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  • " How to Get a Free, Same Day, Temporary Social Security Card Replacement". SSA Locator. Accessed on May 26, 2024.

  • " How to Get a Free, Same Day, Temporary Social Security Card Replacement". SSA Locator, Accessed 26 May, 2024

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