Publication courtesy of the Social Security Administration:

Numbers For Newborns

Publication No. 05-10023
October 1999
ICN 454925


You have a lot of things on your mind when you have a baby. We realize that getting a Social Security number isn't at the top of your list of "things to do." However, we're using this opportunity to tell you why it's important that you get a number for your baby and how easy it is to get one. We'll also answer some other questions you might have about Social Security numbers. 

Why Should I Get A Social Security
Number For My Baby?

The main reason you should get a Social Security number is to claim your baby as a dependent on your income tax return. Any child you claim as a dependent on your income tax return must have a number, regardless of age. Getting a Social Security number is just the beginning of the valuable protection and benefits your child may be eligible for in the future. 

Are There Other Advantages?

Young children need Social Security numbers for many reasons, in addition to the tax reason.

Your child needs a number if you plan to—

  • open a bank account;
  • buy savings bonds;
  • obtain medical coverage; or
  • apply for some kind of government\services for your child.

Must My Baby Have A Social Security Number Now?

No! Getting a Social Security number for your baby is strictly voluntary.

How Do I Apply?

You have a choice. You can—

  • apply for a number in the hospital when you furnish information for your baby's birth certificate; or
  • apply for a number from us later.

It's easy to apply at at birth. When you give the hospital representative information for your baby's birth certificate, you'll be asked if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your baby. If you say "yes," you need to provide both parents' Social Security numbers. We'll assign your baby a number and mail the Social Security card directly to you

If you want to wait to apply for your baby's number at one of our offices, you'll need to—

  • fill out an application (you need to provide both parent's Social Security numbers);
  • show evidence of your child's age, identity and citizenship; and
  • show evidence of your identity.

Do I Have To Pay for A Number?

No! There is never a charge for a Social Security card and number. If you're contacted by someone who wants to charge you for getting a card or number, or for any Social Security service, please be aware that all services are available free of charge from us. 

What If I Lose The Card?

Keep your baby's Social Security card in a safe place. It's an important document. However, if you lose the card, we will replace it at no charge. Just contact your nearest Social Security office. 

Social Security Number Misuse

Sometimes more than one person uses the same Social Security number, either on purpose or not. Your should let us know if you believe someone is using a Social Security number that belongs to someone else.

It's against the law to—

  • use someone else's Social Security number;
  • give false information when applying for a number; or
  • alter or sell Social Security cards.

Anyone convicted of these crimes is subject to stiff fines and/or imprisonment

Your Privacy 

When you apply for a Social security number, all information provided is kept strictly confidential and is not disclosed, except when required by law.

For More Information

You can get recorded information about Social Security 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays, by calling Social Security's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a service representative between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days. Our lines are busiest early in the week and early in the month so, if your business can wait, it's best to call at other times. Whenever you call, have your Social Security number handy.

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days.

We treat all calls confidentially—whether they're made to our toll-free numbers or to one of our local offices. We also want to make sure that you receive accurate and courteous service. That's why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some incoming and outgoing telephone calls.

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