How do I get an unrestricted Social Security card and what are they for?

Everyone is given a Social Security number when they’re born or become a U.S. citizen.

This helps identify people and keep a record of their employment and earnings. This allows people to benefit from programs down the line.

People normally have their card memorized, but it’s good to have your physical card that was issued to you.

Related: Here are 4 of the biggest changes for Social Security that happened in 2021

There are three types of cards recipients can get, and two have specific work restrictions.

Unrestricted cards are only given to U.S. citizens or people that are legally in the U.S.

The card has your name, SSN, and allows for people to work without restrictions.

Related: How do I change my Social Security number?

How to get an unrestricted card to work

Many people seek an unrestricted card so they can work.

To do this you need to fill out the SSA Form SS-5 and bring it to your local SSA office with documentation.

Those who have sought asylum in the U.S. can apply for unrestricted cards as well.

Related: Here’s how to find out what you’re getting paid in Social Security benefits for 2022 early

The other two cards come with working restrictions.

One states on the card “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION.” This means that in order to work, the cardholder needs the Department of Homeland Security to approve their request to work.

The third card states “NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT.” These cards do not allow people who were let into the U.S. to work at all.

These cards are given only if someone needs a SSN for reasons other than work, like for benefits or services.


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