Answer: While you can use a birth certificate to prove age or citizenship, you cannot use it as proof of identity. Social Security needs evidence of the child’s existence after birth. An acceptable document must show your child’s name, identifying information, and, preferably, a recent photograph. Your child must be present unless the picture ID also shows your child’s biographical information (i.e., age, date of birth, and parents’ names). We generally can accept a non-photo identity document if it has enough information to identify the child (such as the child’s name and age, date of birth, and parents’ names). We prefer to see the child’s U.S. passport. If that document is not available, we may accept the child’s:
• Adoption decree;
• Doctor, clinic, or hospital record;
• Religious record (e.g., baptismal record);
• Daycare center or school record; or
• School identification card.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. To find out more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. There, you can also find out what documents you need, fill out and print an application, and then bring or mail the needed information to Social Security. You may also want to read the publication, Social Security Numbers For Children, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Q: A few years ago, I lost my Social Security card. Now my credit report shows that someone might be using my Social Security number. I’m afraid they might ruin my credit. What should I do?
A: Identity theft and fraud are serious problems, not just for you, but for the financial integrity of our agency. It also puts our national security at risk if someone dangerous is using your number to obtain other forms of identification. It’s against the law to use someone else’s Social Security number, give false information when applying for a number, or alter, buy, or sell Social Security cards. Keep in mind, you should never carry your Social Security card with you. If you think someone is using your Social Security number fraudulently, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) right away. You can report it at www.idtheft.gov or you can call FTC’s hotline at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4261) TTY (1-866-653-4261).
Q: Why is it so important that my baby have a Social Security number?
A: Your child may need a Social Security number if you are planning to open a bank account, buy savings bonds, obtain medical coverage, or apply for government services for the child. Your child will also need a Social Security number if you are going to declare him or her on your taxes. Getting a Social Security number for your newborn is voluntary, but it is a good idea to apply when your child is born. You can apply for a Social Security number for your baby when you apply for your baby’s birth certificate. The state agency that issues birth certificates will give us your child’s information and we will mail you a Social Security card with the child’s Social Security number. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber for more information.