Conducting Business with Social Security During the Pandemic

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Am I eligible for an in-person appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can only enter our offices if you have an appointment. For more information regarding appointment availability for your situation, please select the statement that applies to you:

I need help with benefits

Generally, we will schedule an in-person appointment in limited, critical situations. Limited, critical situations exist when you:

  • Are without food or shelter, including utilities or are without medical care or coverage and need to apply for or reinstate benefits.
  • Currently receive benefits and have an urgent need for payment to meet expenses for food, shelter, or medical treatment, and you cannot receive the payment electronically.

If you believe you qualify for an in-person appointment, call your local office. You can look up the phone number for your local office by accessing our office locator. Please note that appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.

I need help with my Social Security Number (SSN)

We are prioritizing requests for in-person SSN services for:

  • Individuals age 12 or older applying for their first SSN card.
  • Individuals who need to update or correct their SSN information (such as your name, date of birth, or citizenship) to obtain income, resources, or medical care or coverage, or other services or benefits (for example filing a tax return, applying for housing, or seeking an Economic Impact Payment).

If you believe you qualify for an in-person appointment, call your local office. You can look up the phone number for your local office by accessing our office locator. Please note that appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.

How do I replace my Social Security card if I do not qualify for an in-person appointment?

You may be able to request a replacement Social Security card online with your personal my Social Security account, which is easy to set up if you do not already have one. Or, you can ask us for a replacement card by completing and mailing the Social Security card application with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously confirmed this information, to your local office. We will return your proof(s) to you.

To find out what documents we need to issue a replacement Social Security Number card, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card. To update the date of birth in our records, applicants must also submit an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the correct date of birth. To update the name in our records, applicants must also submit a recent document that identifies them in both their old and new names. For additional information, please read the instructions on the Social Security card application.

Because we are experiencing slight delays processing mail-in SSN card applications, it may take us between two and four weeks to process the application and return the evidence.

Do I Need to Show My Social Security Card?

It is important to know that your Social Security card is not an identification document, and in many situations, you only need to know your Social Security Number (you do not need the physical Social Security card). You can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

The following list includes common situations where you think you may need your Social Security card, but other alternatives exist:

For evidence for work: A Social Security card is one of several documents listed as acceptable to establish work authorization on Form I-9. Other examples of acceptable documents include:

  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by State, county, municipal authority, or territory of the United States bearing an official seal,
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551),
  • Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766), or
  • Form I-94 or Form I-94A.

For evidence for Department of Motor Vehicles / Driver’s License (REAL ID): The deadline to obtain a Real ID is May 3, 2023. Federal law no longer requires states to see proof of your Social Security number (SSN) for the REAL ID, though some states may still choose to require proof.

If your state requires proof of your SSN:

  • Only the state of Pennsylvania requires that you show your physical Social Security Card as evidence. Pennsylvania will not accept other documents with your SSN.
  • For all other states, you may not need to present the physical Social Security card as evidence. Other documents listing your name and full SSN may be acceptable for the Real ID including a:
    • W-2 form,
    • SSA-1099 form,
    • non-SSA-1099 form, or
    • Pay stub.

To learn about the REAL ID requirements in your state, check with your Department of Motor Vehicles or appropriate agency.

For Tax Purposes: You do not need your Social Security card. To obtain your Social Security Number, you may call your local Social Security office to request that we mail you an SSN printout. It is important that your name on your Social Security card matches your name with the IRS when you file your taxes. To correct your name or other information on your Social Security card, you can request a corrected card by completing the paper application and mailing it with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously seen these to your local office. We will return your proof to you. To find out what documents we need to update your name visit, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card.

To Receive Other Benefits: You may need your Social Security Number to get benefits or assistance such as housing, health insurance, or food assistance, but you should not need your Social Security card. If you need to provide proof of your Social Security Number, call your local Social Security office to ask that we mail you an SSN printout. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should be able to verify your Social Security Number and if you receive benefits from Social Security without requiring you show or request a replacement Social Security Card.

To help with school enrollment: Contact the school administration to ask if you can provide an SSN printout instead of a Social Security Number card. You can request an SSN printout by calling your local Social Security office.

If you need to obtain forms of proof, you can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

How can a representative help me with my Social Security claim?

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You may appoint a qualified person to represent you when doing business with Social Security. Use Form SSA-1696-U4, Appointment of Representative to tell us in writing about the person you appoint. You can send the completed, signed, and dated document to your local Social Security office, but for faster service ask your representative to initiate an e1696. Your representative must give us a valid email address for you. With this service, you can complete, sign, and submit your appointment of a representative online, safely and quickly.

A representative generally cannot charge or collect a fee for these services without written approval from us.

See Your Right To Representation for more information.

How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for my child while offices are closed to walk-in visitors?

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Applying for SSI for a child requires two steps – completing the Application for SSI and the Child Disability Report. We encourage you to complete the Childhood Disability Report online. After you submit the report, a Social Security representative will call you within 3-5 business days and complete the application for SSI with you. You can find more information at Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children.

How will SSA process my notice of appointment while emergency procedures are in place?

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Beginning March 11, 2021, we have revised our temporary procedures to allow you to use different methods to sign the notice of appointment of a representative and fee agreement, if the fee agreement is submitted with the new notice of appointment, during the current COVID-19 health emergency. During this time, if we receive an appointment document such as the Form SSA-1696, on its own or along with an SSA-8000, SSA-8001, SSA-L2, SSA-820, SSA-821, SSA-827, or SSA-455 form, and your signature appears to be an electronic or digital signature, we will make three attempts to contact you to verify your identity and confirm the signature. If we verify your identity and signature, we will process the appointment as usual. If the first attempt to reach you by telephone is unsuccessful, we also will send a call-in letter to you and the representative you requested. If we cannot reach you and you do not return our call, or do not verify the signature, we will return the paperwork to the person who submitted it without recognizing the appointment.

We also have temporary procedures in place permitting you to verbally appoint a representative during a “remote” telephone hearing with an administrative law judge, if you submit a written notice of appointment afterwards. In this case, we will accept an electronic signature on the written appointment notice, without needing to call you again.

These temporary procedures and more details can be found here.

I just changed my name and need to change it with SSA. What documents do I need to mail with my SSN application to get a replacement card with my new name?

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If you recently changed your name (e.g., due to marriage, divorce, other), you must show us proof of legal name change and identity.

NOTE: If the document meets certain criteria, you may only need to mail us your SSN card application and your original or certified name change document. The name change document can be used as both an identity and name change document if it is not a birth certificate and the name change event occurred within the past two years and has the applicant’s prior name and biographical information (such as age, date of birth, or parent’s names), which matches data on our records. This is only for name change situations. For more information, see RM 10212.015D.

Below are examples of acceptable documents for a name change:

  • Proof of Name Change
    • Marriage document
    • Divorce Decree
    • Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name
    • Court order approving the name change
  • Proof of Identity
    • U.S. Driver’s license
    • State issued identity card
    • U.S. passport or U.S. diplomatic passport
    • U.S. Military identification card
    • School identity card or certified copy of school record with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Health Insurance or U.S. Medicaid card with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Certificate of Citizenship
    • U.S. Indian Tribal ID card
    • Final adoption decree
    • Certified copy of medical record
    • Life insurance policy with biographical information

What if I need to apply for a replacement SSN card and my only option is to mail my application and identity documentation? Since I need my driver’s license (DL) to drive, is there an alternative to mailing my DL, State Identification card or passport?

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Usually, a SSN card applicant must submit the document with the highest quality for proving identity. We call this a primary identity document. In most cases, for a U.S. citizen, this is a State-issued driver’s license. If the primary identity document is not available, (available means the document exists and the applicant can access or obtain it within 10 business days) we would then allow a person to submit an original secondary form of identity.

SSA is temporarily allowing people to mail in an original or certified secondary identity document with their paper Social Security Number application (SS-5) if they cannot request a replacement SSN card online. Acceptable secondary level identity documents must meet the rigorous document evaluation standards for authenticity, and have biographical data such as date of birth, age, etc.

Below are examples of primary and secondary level documents that are acceptable.

  • Primary
    • Driver’s license
    • State issued identity card
    • U.S. passport
  • Secondary
    • U.S. diplomatic passport
    • Military identification card
    • Certificate of Naturalization
    • Certificate of Citizenship
    • U.S. Indian Tribal ID card
    • Final adoption decree
    • Certified copy of medical record
    • Health Insurance or U.S. Medicaid card with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • School identity card or certified copy of school record with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Life insurance policy with biographical information
    • Marriage document

For a list of additional acceptable secondary level identity documents, see chart in RM 10210.420.

Can I enroll in Medicare?

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If you enrolled in Medicare Part A and would like to enroll in Part B under the Special Enrollment Period (SEP), you can apply online at Apply for Medicare Part B Online during a Special Enrollment Period. You can upload your application and documents that verify your group health plan coverage through your employer.

You can also fax or mail your completed CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance) and the CMS-L564, Request for Employment Information enrollment forms and evidence of employment to your local Social Security office. If you have questions, please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Note: When completing the forms CMS-40B and CMS-L564:

  • State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best as you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
  • Also, submit one of the following forms of secondary evidence:
    • Income tax form that shows health insurance premiums paid.
    • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
    • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
    • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
    • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
    • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

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During the pandemic, we continue to take applications for SSI. You, or someone on your behalf, may submit an application for SSI. Please visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/ to learn how to apply. We include information about applying for an adult or a child, and how you can appeal if your SSI application was denied.

I am a non-citizen and Social Security says they need to see my DHS lawful presence documents to pay my benefits. Should I mail them to my local office?

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No. Do not mail any DHS lawful presence documents to SSA. If they are needed, your local office will contact you to possibly schedule an appointment to review and certify your original documentation.

I filed an application for benefits. What evidence do I need to provide to begin receiving payments and how can I provide SSA the information while offices are closed to walk-in visitors?

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The evidence you need to provide depends on a number of factors, including the type of benefit you applied for, your citizenship status, and what information may already be available in our records. When evidence is necessary we will contact you. In many cases, you may be able to mail-in the original evidence and we will return the documents to you as soon as possible. However, if you need to provide evidence that you cannot mail-in (e.g., Department of Homeland Security lawful presence documents) please let us know. We may be able to offer you an in-office appointment, depending on availability.

What if I can’t get the original or certified documents that SSA needs to approve my benefits application? Can I send a photocopy?

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We generally need to see original or certified evidence, but we may be able to temporarily pay your ongoing benefits during the pandemic based on the information you can provide now, and review the original evidence at a later date. Please let us know if you are unable to obtain or provide us needed evidence due to the pandemic. You can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

I requested an appeal of my overpayment or other non-disability matter. How can I find out the status of my pending appeal?

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We suspended processing of non-disability appeals between March and September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an appeal pending on an overpayment or other non-disability matter, your local office can provide status.

How can I get a new or replacement Social Security number card?

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A Social Security number (SSN) is important because you need it to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, and get some other government services. However, please note that you may not need the physical SSN card for many of these services.

New Card Requests

We assign the vast majority of SSNs and issue SSN cards at birth. We will continue to process new card requests through our automated processes for newborns as part of the hospital registration process (we call that process Enumeration at Birth). We will also continue to process SSNs and issue cards for certain lawful immigrants [we call these processes Enumeration at Entry (EAE) and Enumeration beyond Entry (EBE)].

If these automated processes are not available to you, we may schedule an in-office appointment for a new card request in certain situations. Appointment availability is based on available staff and office operating status. Please call your local office to see if an in-office appointment is necessary and possible. To contact your local office, please look for the local office telephone number at Social Security Office Locator under “Social Security Office Information” for the office you select. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.

Replacement Card Requests

You may be able to request a replacement Social Security card online with your personal my Social Security account, which is easy to set up if you do not already have one. Or, you can ask us for a replacement card by completing and mailing the Social Security card application with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously confirmed this information, to your local office. We will return your proof(s) to you.

To find out what documents we need to issue a replacement Social Security Number card, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card. To update the date of birth in our records, applicants must also submit an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the correct date of birth. To update the name in our records, applicants must also submit a recent document that identifies them in both their old and new names. For additional information, please read the instructions on the Social Security card application.

Because we are experiencing slight delays processing mail-in SSN card applications, it may take us between two and four weeks to process the application and return the evidence.

There are certain situations where we may be able to make an in-office appointment to update or correct your SSN information.

What can I do online?

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You can conduct most business online with our secure and convenient online services. Our online services are available from anywhere and from any of your devices. You can:

We also have information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.

What safety protocols must I follow to visit a Social Security office?

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Due to COVID-19, you must have a scheduled appointment to enter an office. Only you may enter the facility unless you have made additional arrangements when you scheduled your appointment. Please note that appointments are limited and only for certain situations.

Effective July 20, 2020, everyone must complete a self-assessment checklist before allowed entry. You will not be permitted to enter if you answer yes to any of these questions:

  1. Do you have any of the following symptoms?
    • Cough or sore throat;
    • Fever (100.4 degrees or higher);
    • Chills;
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
    • Muscle pain or body aches;
    • Headache;
    • New loss of taste or smell; or
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  2. In the last 14 days, have you:
    • Been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    • Received instructions to monitor for symptoms or self-quarantine?
    • Traveled outside the country? or
    • Been within 6 feet of a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19?

If you answer YES to any of these questions, or if you feel ill, you will not be allowed to enter. Call the office to reschedule your appointment. If you do not have the phone number, use our Office Locator to find the phone number.

If you can answer NO to both questions, you must wear a face covering over your mouth and nose to enter the facility. If you do not have a mask, we will provide you with one. If you are unable to wear a face covering, call the office and ask to speak with the manager.

For your safety, Social Security employees are required to follow the same self-assessment checklist and are required to wear a face covering.

Can SSA help me by phone?

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking the public to first try to use our online services before calling us.

Although our offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors, our employees are answering your calls. You can find the phone number for your local office by using our Field Office Locator and looking under Social Security Office Information. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.

You may also call our National 800 Number, where you may be able to take care of your business by using one of our automated telephone services without having to wait for a telephone agent. If you need to speak with an agent, be aware that wait times may be longer than usual, which is why we encourage you to try our online services or call your local office first.

How can I find out if my Social Security office is open?

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None of our Social Security offices can accommodate walk-in visitors until further notice. In-person service is by appointment only and for limited situations. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, we are still able to provide critical services. If you have a situation that we cannot help you with by phone, online, fax, or mail, we may be able to schedule an in-office appointment for you.

You can speak with a representative by calling your local Social Security office or our National 800 Number. Local office phone numbers are available online at our Social Security Office Locator. Please visit our Office Closings and Emergencies page for the latest information about office closings.

How can I get help from SSA?

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While our offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors due to COVID-19, we remain committed to providing ongoing benefits and vital services. You can still get our help by using our online services or calling us. If you have a situation that we cannot help you with by phone, online, fax, or mail, we may be able to schedule an in-office appointment for you.

You can do most of your business with SSA online. Before calling us, please visit our website to see our list of convenient and secure self-service options. Save time and go online.

If you cannot use our online services, we can help with certain issues by phone and mail.

I had a scheduled appointment, what do I need to do?

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If you already have a scheduled appointment, we will attempt to contact you by phone at your appointment time and/or reschedule for a telephone appointment.

Note: Scammers may try to take advantage of this situation. Remember that our employees will never threaten you or ask for any form of immediate payment.

Will SSA extend our deadlines to provide documentation and other information?

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Yes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending deadlines wherever possible.

  • If we asked you to contact us by a certain date, please do not come to the office. You can contact us once our offices reopen to the public or you can mail your documents to us. We will follow up with you once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
  • We are providing maximum flexibility in applying our good cause policy. This policy allows us to extend the time limits for submitting appeals and taking other actions during this pandemic.