How to Replace a Child’s Social Security Card

  • By Greg Brown
  • Jan 09, 2023

 child's social security card replacement

No other number carries importance for Americans the same as their Social Security number (SSN). You need an SSN to get the many benefits Americans are entitled to. Created in 1936, the US Government created Social Security numbers to track the earnings history of workers in the United States. 

Every parent’s responsibility is to get their child off to a good start, and their foundation should start with a valid Social Security number. There are several reasons why a parent should apply for a Social Security card for their child. A child must have an SS number if the parent plans to claim the child as a dependent. Additional reasons include the following:

  • Opening a bank account for your child
  • Buying a savings bond for a child
  • Medical coverage
  • Government services

The easiest way for a parent to get an SSN for their newborn is at the hospital when you provide the information needed for the birth certificate. The hospital will ask parents if they wish to apply for an SSN when filling out the other details for their birth certificate.

If the answer is yes on the birth certificate at the hospital, parents need to provide both of their SSNs. The application can continue even if the parents have forgotten their SSNs. Parents can wait to apply and use the online application if needed. 

The Social Security Number and Card application are located at Parents can start the application online and complete the process at a local SSA office. Another option is to print out the application (Form SS-5) for a SS card, available at

Make sure you have the following original documentation for your child:

  • Your child’s US Citizenship
  • Age
  • Identity
  • Documentation proving the parent’s identity and the relationship to the child

Any child over 12 must appear in person at a local SSA office, even if the parent or guardianship will sign the application.

Replace a Child’s Social Security Card

Over time, families move, belongings get packed away, parents separate, and essential documentation gets lost. It is always important to have a safe deposit box for valuable papers, investment docs, and of course, Social Security cards. 

If you have lost your child’s SS card and need to replace it, there are a few steps outlined by the SSA to deal with such matters. 

  • Parents must prove the child's identity and US Citizenship
  • If the child is not a US citizen, parents must provide immigration status and documentation
  • If a parent is filling out the application on behalf of the child, parents must prove the parent’s identity and relationship/custody to the child
  • Authority to sign the application, refer to this site for the documentation needed
  • Fill out the application for a new SS card and contact your local SSA office for the best submission options


  1. How do I prove citizenship for my child
  2. There are only a few documents the SSA will accept as proof: 1) US birth certificate 2) US Consular report of birth 3) US passport; unexpired and valid 4) Naturalization certificate or Citizenship certificate
  1. We don’t have a birth certificate. Is there anything else we can use?
  2. The Administration may be able to accept a few other forms: 1) Children before the age of five can use a religious record that shows the date of birth 2) a Record of birth by a US hospital 3) US passport or card
  1. My child was born outside the United States. What documentation is acceptable?
  2. 1) Certificate of birth abroad is acceptable documentation (FS-545) 2) Report of Birth (DS-1350) 3) Consular report of birth abroad (FS-240) 4) Certificate of naturalization 5) Passport
  1. Will the agency accept a photocopy?
  2. No, the SSA can not accept photocopies or notarized copies of a document.
  1. My child is adopted and does not have an SSN; what should I do?
  2. SSNs can be assigned to a child before the adoption is complete. However, it may be better to wait until the adoption is complete. You can then apply for an SSN with their new name and you as the parent. 
  1. How much will it cost to get a SS number and card?
  2. There is never a charge by the Social Security Administration. If you receive a call demanding money for services, this is a phone predator, and you need to hang up immediately. 

Stolen or Misuse of a Child’s Social Security Card

Stolen or Misuse of a Child’s Social Security Card

Unfortunately, children are an easy target for predators of all types. Parents need to use the utmost caution when dealing with important documentation for children. Never carry your child’s SS card with you, and always keep it in a secure location like a home safe or safe deposit box. 

Children under eighteen are usually a blank slate credit-wise and easy targets for fraudsters who steal identities to buy a new car or apply for credit. Using a child’s Social Security number may go undetected for years because parents rarely check to see if their kids have a credit file.

Unfortunately, a stolen Social Security number may rear its ugly head when the child grows up and needs to rent an apartment or apply for a credit card. Another fraudulent activity; using the child’s SS number and other information to create what is known as “Synthetic Identity Theft.”

Identity thieves can use a child’s SSN to file a false tax return or claim the child on a tax return. If the thought of your child’s Social Security number being stolen terrifies you, there are a few safeguards to take: 1) Place a security freeze on your child’s credit report 2) Consider a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on any SSN activity 3) Keep your child’s essential documents in a safe place and never share with anyone unless absolutely necessary. 4) As your child grows older, educate them on privacy and proper online behavior.

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