Social Security Numbers for Children

In the past, children typically applied to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Social Security numbers (SSNs) in their teen years when they entered the workforce. Today, even though having a SSN is not mandatory, almost all personal financial transactions are now linked in some way to a SSN. For example, it is important for your child to have a number in order to be claimed as a dependent on your income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that SSNs be listed for all dependents claimed on tax returns. Your child may also need a number for the following reasons: if you open a bank account for your child; buy savings bonds in the child’s name; obtain health insurance coverage for your child; or apply for government services.

The easiest, most convenient time to apply for your child’s SSN is when you provide the information for your baby’s birth certificate at the hospital. You will then have the opportunity to apply for your newborn’s SSN. The state agency that issues birth certificates will contact the SSA with your child’s information, and your child’s Social Security card will be mailed to you. When you receive your child’s card, remember to keep it in a safe location and not to carry it with you.

If you should wait to apply for your child’s SSN, the SSA will require proof of your identity, as well as proof of your child’s age, U.S. citizenship, and identity. In addition, the SSA will have to verify your child’s birth record, which can take up to another three months before you will receive the Social Security card. The SSA’s verification process is necessary to help protect your child from becoming a victim of SSN identity theft through the fraudulent use of birth records. If you are planning to adopt a child, it is recommended that you apply for your newly adopted child’s SSN when the adoption is complete.

There is no cost for obtaining a Social Security card because Social Security services are free of charge. Therefore, if anyone contacts you about obtaining a card or SSN and is charging a fee, he or she is not affiliated with the SSA. Further, if you suspect your child’s number is being used by someone else, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) either online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by phone at 877-IDTHEFT.

To learn more about obtaining a number for newborns or other Social Security services, visit www.socialsecurity.gov, or call 800-772-1213.

 

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