Privacy & Identity, Social Security Number and Card

Social Security Cards Are Safer at Home

March 23, 2023 • By

Reading Time: 1 Minute

Last Updated: March 23, 2023

Close-up of Social Security cardsScams to steal your personal information are at an all-time high. It’s important to continue to safeguard personal documents such as your Social Security card.

A Social Security card is not an identification document. In many situations, you only need to know your Social Security number (SSN). Your physical card is not necessary for most business needs.

Do you need evidence for work? There are several documents you can use instead of your card. Other acceptable evidence includes the following:

  • Birth Certificate.
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt.
  • Employment Authorization Document.
  • Form I-94 or Form I-94A.

You do not need to show your physical card to apply for certain benefits. You can simply provide your SSN for benefits like:

  • Housing.
  • Health insurance.
  • Food assistance.

You should also know your physical card is not required as evidence for the Department of Motor Vehicles or Driver License (REAL ID). The only state that requires a physical card is Pennsylvania. For all other states, other acceptable evidence includes:

  • W-2 forms.
  • Form SSA-1099.
  • Non-SSA-1099 forms.
  • Pay stubs.

Keeping your card at home reduces the risk of loss or theft – and helps you keep your information safe.

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About the Author

Dawn Bystry, Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications

Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications


  1. Tony

    Rent is so high. Many seniors are homeless in the streets. They have no home, so they have to carry their SSN card with them where ever they go.

    The U.S. Federal Reserves Bank is letting slum lords buy up homes with low interest rates and charging seniors 20%-40% increase in rent. How many people were force out of their home as slum lords bought the house they were renting from underneath them and increasing the rent.

  2. Kimberly R.

    Your requirements/comments about people leaving comments on here is a bit weird, too.

    You say “Don’t leave your email address on this page, yet YOU REQUEST IT IN ORDER TO LEAVE A COMMENT! That is stupid!

  3. Joko A.

    Discover id.

  4. Laurie A.

    I can’t think of a place to keep it that I will remember!

    • Mark L.

      I can empathize with you. There are many conditions that people can find it difficult to find a card. Some conditions may be medical. Some conditions may be situational.

      “A Social Security card is not an identification document.” The Social Security card is used for identification. The new ID that was voted in by the national Legislators made it mandatory for a document for voting.

    • Marc

      Get a portable safe and keep all your important documents in it. Social Security card, marriage license/divorce decree, insurance and mortgage papers, will and estate planning documents, your dog’s rabies certificate if you have a dog, there are many others personal to each person. Put this safe in a closet or under your bed. Try to get one that’s fireproof and waterproof. Everyone should be doing this.

  5. The I.

    I can remember back in college in the 80’s in NYC at SUNY FIT … you had to give your social security number to enter campus buildings … it was how we learned our socials back then… LOL

  6. Angie

    An original social security card is needed to receive housing assistance for the Section 8 or Public Housing programs.

    • Mark L.


      “A Social Security card is not an identification document.”

      Also, you can’t laminate the card. Someone in transition lives a difficult life. Keeping a card in pristine condition is more practical when it is laminated. Agencies that require the Social Security card will not take it when it is laminated. This is stupid bureaucracy. It is not practical for people that can live into their 90’s to have this requirement. Yes, someone can request another card. Where does a homeless person have their card sent to? This is stupid burden to put on people with medical conditions, elderly, homeless, etc.

      People should be able to laminate their cards.

      • Kimberly R.

        I laminated my SS card decades ago, & nobody has ever said anything to me about it. EVER. At the time I laminated my SS card, I didn’t know it was considered illegal either. NOBODY HAS SAID ANYTHING TO ME ABOUT IT & I HAVE HAD TO SHOW IT BEFORE.

  7. Terry B.

    Most tax preparers will want to see your actual SSN card when filing electronically becasue the name and number need to match or the IRS will reject the return.

    • LaDelle H.

      Renew Card

      • Mark L.


        “A Social Security card is not an identification document.” Is a false statement. There are enough places that you need a Social Security card as an ID that it can make life difficult; passport, Minnesota driver’s license (Please don’t say that some other ID could be used in place of. I don’t have a birth certificate with any legal seals at home either.)

        Good thoughts by the author but for normal people, non-billionaires, identification can be a longer list than what most people have as every-day ID’s.

    • Mark L.


      “A Social Security card is not an identification document.” Is a false statement in this article. I wish it wasn’t.

    • Mark L.


      “A Social Security card is not an identification document.” This is not true in the article.

    • Kimberly R.

      I have never had to show a tax preparer my SS card #.

  8. Brandy B.

    I disagree with you I’m trying to get an apartment and I have to have a Social Security card they will not take anything else and it’s very difficult to get one because you have to go into Social Security office to get it and I can hardly walk.

    • Lee C.

      I wonder if showing them this information straight from Social Security would be enough and then they’d let you use something else?? I hope it goes well and you get your apartment.

      • Mark L.


        “A Social Security card is not an identification document.” Is a false statement.

    • Dale

      You can get a new card online through

    • Dennis V.

      They are wrong My card specifically says “not for identification purposes”, yet many seem to think is an ID card.

      • Mark L.

        Yes. I agree with you Dale but that does not stop everyone from requiring it; needed for passport, national ID used for voting, etc.

    • Kimberly S.

      You should NEVER SHOW ANYONE your SS card #. NOT on ANY application. They can ASK for the # on paper, but they can’t ask to SEE IT. THAT is illegal.

  9. Charles W.

    How about “my Social Security Card” “YOUR ONLINE ACCOUNT… YOUR CONTROL” card? Can this safely be kept in my wallet?

  10. John

    WHY should we leave our SS Cards at home? Our number is now being used for Everything we do. It makes no sense; especially since most people, (me specifically) cannot remember this new convolution of numbers and letters, so must carry it with us.

    • Willa

      Are you maybe referring to your Medicare card? If so, your Medicare care number and social security number are not the same.

    • Steve W.

      It appears John is confusing the new medicare card with his social security card. The new medicare card ID “number” contain both letters and numbers. The new medicare number replaced the use of the the social security as the medicare ID number. Your Medicare card is something that you will be asked for by medical providers to prove you have healthcare coverage under Medicare.

    • Jove

      Your SS number consists only of 9 numbers, no letters. Anyway, I think the point for leaving the card at home is to prevent one more identity theft, at least, from harming you.

    • Kimberly R.

      I NEVER leave my SS card at hm. I have it with me, & like my cell ph, guard it with my life.

      I even sleep with cell ph on my chest! How paranoid is that?

Comments are closed.