What does a Social Security Card look like?

If you are wondering what a Social Security card looks like, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will explain the three types of Social Security cards issued by the Social Security Administration, including cards for U.S Citizens and Permanent Residents.

Also, we will explain the differences between them and provide a picture of what they each look like.

Furthermore, we will look at how you can request a replacement card if your current card is lost or stolen.

Finally, if you are trying to apply for a Social Security Card, and are not sure which of the three cards you are going to receive, we can help you. Keep reading.

"What do the numbers on Social Security mean"

This post will cover:

  • What is the Social Security Number and Card?
  • Why Do You Need a Social Security Card?
  • What does a Social Security Card look like?
  • Types of Social Security Cards
  • FAQs about Social Security Number and Card

What is the Social Security Number and Card?

The Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine-digit number that is issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

It is your first and continuous connection with Social Security.

Your Social Security number helps the SSA Identify and accurately record your covered wages or self-employment earnings.

In addition, the number is used to monitor your record once you start getting Social Security benefits.

Why Do You Need a Social Security Card?

A Social Security number is important because you need it for the following:

  • To get a job
  • Collect Social Security benefits
  • Get Access to Government Services

It is important to keep your Social Security card in a safe place.

However, you do not need to carry your card with you all the time.

That is because, in many cases, simply knowing your Social Security number is enough.

Also, if you do need a replacement, you can get one at your local Social Security Office or you can apply by mail.

What does a Social Security Card look like?

The current Social Security card consists of specially designed pre-printed banknote paper bearing the words, “Social Security,” and the official seal of SSA.

Also, the statement, “This number has been established for” is printed across the official seal, in the middle of the card.

During the card issuance process, the SSN and the number holder’s name are printed above and below this statement on the card.

Types of Social Security Cards

"What are the types of social security cards"

The Social Security Administration issues three types of Social Security Cards.

All cards show your name and Social Security number.

However, If you are not a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may have a work restriction listed on your card.

We have described the three types of cards below, with a picture of what each looks like.

Type 1 – Without Restriction

As a matter of fact, the first kind of Social Security card shows your name and Social Security number and lets you work without restriction.

This type of Social Security Card is issued to:

    • U.S. citizens; and
    • People lawfully admitted to the United States on a permanent basis.

It also allows the holder to earn the Social Security credits that qualify the individual for disability and retirement benefits.

Here is a picture of what it looks like:

"What does a Social Security card look like - 1"

Type 2 – Valid for Work with DHS Authorization

The second kind of Social Security card shows your name and Social Security number with the restriction, “VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION“.

This type of card is issued to people lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis who have Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorization to work.

Here is a picture of what it looks like:

"What does a Social Security card look like - 2"

Type 3 – Not Valid for Employment

The third kind of Social Security card shows your name and Social Security number with the restriction, “NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT“.

This type of card is issued to people from other countries who:

  • are lawfully admitted to the United States without work authorization from DHS, but have a valid non-work reason for needing a Social Security number; or
  • need a number because of a federal law requiring a Social Security number to get a benefit or service.

Here is a picture of what it looks like:

"What does a Social Security card look like - 3"

FAQs about Social Security Number and Card

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Social Security Number and Card:

What do the numbers on Social Security mean?

The nine-digit Social Security Number is composed of three parts:

First set of three digits is called the Area Number
Second set of two digits is called the Group Number
The final set of four digits is the Serial Number

The Area Number

The Area Number is assigned by the geographical region.

Prior to 1972, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country and the Area Number represented the State in which the card was issued.

However, this did not necessarily have to be the State where the applicant lived, since a person could apply for their card in any Social Security office.

Since 1972, the SSA has been assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore.

As a result, the area number assigned has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card.

The applicant’s mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence.

Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, either prior to 1972 or since.

Generally, numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving westward.

Therefore, people on the east coast have the lowest numbers and those on the west coast have the highest numbers.

Group Number

Within each area, the group number (middle two (2) digits) range from 01 to 99 but are not assigned in consecutive order.

For administrative reasons, group numbers issued first consist of the ODD numbers from 01 through 09 and then EVEN numbers from 10 through 98, within each area number allocated to a State.

After all numbers in group 98 of a particular area have been issued, the EVEN Groups 02 through 08 are used, followed by ODD Groups 11 through 99.

Serial Number

Within each group, the serial numbers (last four (4) digits) run consecutively from 0001 through 9999.

How are the first 3 digits of your Social Security number determined?

Your nine-digit Social Security Number is composed of three parts as explained above.

The first three (3) digits of a person’s social security number are determined by the ZIP Code of the mailing address shown on the application for a social security number.

However, this number merely established that the card was issued by one of the Social Security offices in that State.

Can I request a replacement Social Security Card Online?

Yes, you can request a replacement Social Security number card online if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older;
  • Have a driver’s license or state-issued identification card from
    one of the participating states or the District of Columbia;
  • Have a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses);
  • Have a my Social Security account; and
  • Don’t require changes to your name, date of birth, place of birth, and/or gender.

To see if your state is eligible, click here.

Also, if you live in Alaska, Delaware, and Wisconsin, this service is available only if you have a driver’s license.

If you do not have a my SocialSecurity account, see our post on how to create a mysocialsecurity account.

Does Social Security Number expire?

There is no expiration date on a Social Security card.

Moreover, once issued, your Social Security number itself never expires.

What a Social Security Card looks like Summary

We hope this post on the question “What does a Social Security Card look like?” was helpful.

If you have further questions about your Social Security card or benefits in general, please let us know in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out our other articles on How to Create my Social Security AccountHow to Login my Social Security AccountDirect Express App for Android and iPhone, and How to change your name on a Social Security card