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Fill out and submit the Social Security Form SS-5 if you are updating or replacing your existing Social Security card, or if you’re requesting one for the first time. Form SS-5 is one page, but it has 18 boxes that request 22 different types of information.
Even though Social Security Form SS-5 includes instructions, filling it out can be confusing. Here’s what you need to know to understand and accurately complete it.
» MORE: How Social Security works
What is Form SS-5?
Form SS-5 is for requesting a Social Security card for the first time, replacing an existing Social Security card or changing information associated with your Social Security record. It is a part of the application process with the Social Security Administration (SSA), and typically you must provide supporting documentation to prove your identity.
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How to fill out Form SS-5
Form SS-5 has 18 boxes — some are optional, but you must fill out every field that applies to you. The Social Security Administration might deny your application if you don’t provide all of the relevant information.
Step 1: Provide your current name and previous names
For box 1, all applicants must fill out the first line. Spell out your current name as you want it spelled on your Social Security card. If you had a different name at birth — the one on your birth certificate — write it on the second line. If you’ve used any other legal names, such as if you’ve changed your name before, include those names in the third line.
Step 2: Provide your Social Security number
Box 2 requires you to fill in your Social Security number if you already have one. If you are requesting your first Social Security card, leave this line blank.
Step 3: Write in information about your birth
Boxes 3 and 4 are side by side, so be sure you fill in both boxes. In box 3, provide your place of birth. This should match your birth certificate. Spell out the places rather than abbreviating them.
In box 4, enter your date of birth. Use numbers only, and put the full four digits for the year. This should also match your other documentation.
Step 4: Indicate your citizenship status
Select the option in box 5 that matches your citizenship status. You may only select one category. If you check a box for “Legal Alien Not Allowed to Work” or “Other,” you’ll need to provide documentation for why you need a Social Security card. The documentation can be from a federal, state or local agency. If you’re not sure if you need a Social Security number, you can call the SSA to ask.
Step 5: Decide if you want to indicate your ethnicity and race (optional)
Boxes 6 and 7 are also side by side. These boxes are optional, and your application will not be affected if you skip both boxes. If you want to include this information, check the appropriate answer in box 6 to categorize your ethnic identity. For box 7, check as many boxes as necessary to capture your racial identity.
Step 6: Mark your preferred gender identity
Box 8 lets you mark your preferred gender identity. Although the form uses the term “sex,” you are allowed to choose which gender you want associated with your Social Security record. You can select a gender identity that doesn't match the one currently on record, and you aren't required to provide legal or medical records to support the gender you select on your application.
The SSA currently designates binary genders only for Social Security purposes. The agency is investigating how to record nonbinary identities for programs in the future.
Step 7: Provide your parents’ names and Social Security numbers
Box 9A requires you to provide your mother’s birth name. This might be different from her current name if she legally changed her name for any reason, such as getting married. For box 9B, fill in your mother’s Social Security number.
For box 10A, fill in your father’s birth name as well. This might be different from his current name if he legally changed his name for any reason, such as getting married. For box 10B, fill in your father’s Social Security number.
If you don't know the Social Security number for one or both of your parents and have no way of finding out, check the box for “Unknown” on the right. Don't leave the box blank — you should either fill in the Social Security number or check the box for “Unknown.”
Step 8: Indicate whether you already have a Social Security number
For box 11, check the box that applies to you:
“Yes” if you have a Social Security number and are requesting a new card or updating the information.
“No” if you’ve never had a Social Security number and are requesting one for the first time.
“Don’t Know” if you are unsure if you have a Social Security number.
Step 9: If you checked “Yes” for box 11, fill in boxes 12 and 13
If you answered “Yes” for box 11, you must fill out box 12 to complete the application. This information relates to your old Social Security card. For box 12, put your name as it appears on your most recent Social Security card. Spell it the same as it appears on the card, even if it’s misspelled on the card.
If you or your parent used a different date of birth when applying for your previous Social Security card — as in, you made a typo — enter that date in box 13. For an application where the date of birth in box 4 differs from the date of birth you entered in box 13, you’ll need to provide documentation to prove that the date of birth in box 4 is your actual date of birth, such as an amended birth certificate.
If you’ve always used the same date of birth for Social Security card documentation, leave box 13 blank.
Step 10: Fill in boxes 14, 15 and 16
Enter the current date in box 14. In box 15, enter a phone number where you can be reached during the daytime, such as a cell phone number.
In box 16, put your complete mailing address. Only use an address where you have regular access to receive mail and will be able to get your card in the mail within seven to 14 days of submitting your application. Don’t abbreviate any words in the address. For example, spell out “Street” instead of using “St.”
Step 11: Sign the form and indicate your relationship to the person requesting a card
Sign the form in box 17. Be sure to read the statement right above box 17 before signing. If you are unsure who should sign the application, read the instructions on page 3 of the application. For box 17, there is a section titled “WHO CAN SIGN THE APPLICATION?” that outlines who should sign in certain situations.
In box 18, check the box that describes your relationship to the person requesting a card:
“Self” means you are requesting a card for yourself.
“Natural Or Adoptive Parent” means you are either a biological parent or a parent who adopted the child requesting the card.
“Legal Guardian” means you have court-ordered custody of the child requesting the card and the authority to fill out the form on the child’s behalf.
“Other Specify” means the other three options don’t fit your relationship to the child or person requesting the card. If you choose this option, you need to fill in the blank with your relationship to the person.
Because Form SS-5 is a legal document, if you intentionally lie on the form and sign it, you could be committing fraud. If you are unsure about any of the information you put on the form, take a break to double-check that everything is accurate.
How to submit Form SS-5
Submitting Form SS-5 online
In most cases, you can fill out the SS-5 form online on the SSA’s website. You can usually submit the form online if you are changing your name or requesting a Social Security number for the first time. You will still need to provide your supporting documentation in person at a Social Security office to complete your application.
However, if you live in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Alaska or a U.S. territory, you might need to submit the form through the mail if you want to replace your Social Security card. That means you’ll need to print out the form, fill it out and mail it (along with your supporting documents) to your nearest Social Security office.
Submitting Form SS-5 in person
You’ll need to submit the SS-5 form in person if you’re changing any of the following information on your Social Security card or record:
Date or place of birth.
A parent’s name.
The SSA occasionally uses the terms “sex identification” and “gender identity” interchangeably when referring to Social Security records. However, “sex identification” is more common in the agency’s documents.
To submit your form in person:
Download and fill out the S-55 form. You can fill it out digitally, then print it, or print it first, then fill it out by hand.
Gather the required documentation. All records must be original versions or a form of certification, such as a signature or raised seal. You can’t submit photocopies.
Locate the SSA office you want to visit.
Call ahead to ensure you don’t need an appointment to speak with someone.
4 tips for submitting Form SS-5
Gather the information you need before starting. This can make the process go more smoothly. This is especially true for information you might need from someone else, such as your mother’s Social Security number.
Read the instructions before filling out a box. If it’s not immediately clear to you what you need to put in a box, take a minute to read the instructions. If you still have questions, call your local SSA office to ask what information you should include. The time spent clarifying the information will be much shorter than time spent redoing the application if you fill it out incorrectly.
Double-check the information before submitting it. Read through the completed application carefully and double-check that everything is correct, especially your contact information. If the SSA has a question, this is how they will contact you.
Check the mail often. It can take seven to 14 days to get your Social Security card in the mail, and it could come anytime in that range. Check your mail frequently to ensure you get it when it’s delivered; don’t leave it in a mailbox where it could be stolen.