What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Your Social Security number identifies your Social Security account. All records of your account maintained by the Social Security Administration is based upon your Social Security number. Both earnings and benefits are determined by the account records under your Social Security number.

Most people in America use a Social Security number when applying for a job. This enables your employer to make contributions to your account. Your Social Security number is likewise used by financial institutions to report the interest that you earn on your accounts with them and by the Internal Revenue service as your account number with respect to your taxes. Many other businesses and government agencies use your Social Security number for their records. Your records maintained by the Social Security Administration are confidential and are not released without your written consent (unless the law requires or permits the release of this information).

To get a Social Security number, if you lost your Social Security card or want a replacement card, or need to change the name on your account, call or visit a Social Security office. When dealing with the Social Security Administration for a new social security card or upon birth of a child, you will have to produce your birth certificate plus some other form of identification. To get a replacement card, you must provide satisfactory proof of identification. If you need to change the name on your Social Security account as a result of a name change, you will be required to produce your marriage certificate, court order of divorce, or court order of name change. Originals or certified copies of documents must be produced – photocopies of documents are not acceptable.

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