By Robert Longley. US Government Expert
Robert has logged over 26 years of experience in municipal government in Texas and California cities. He has also served as About's Guide to U.S. Government since October 1997.
You can also read more about Robert's current and past work on his Google Profile: Robert Longley .
The most common reason is that in order to for you to claim an exemption for your child as a dependent on your federal income tax, he or she will need a Social Security number. In addition, if you qualify for the child tax credit. you will need your child's Social Security number to claim it. Your child may also need a Social Security number if you plan to:
- Obtain health insurance for your child or add your child to your own health care plan;
- Open a bank or savings account for your child;
- Buy savings bonds for your child; or
Continue Reading Below
While each state has different processing times, about 2 weeks is average. Add another 2 weeks for processing by Social Security. You will get your child's Social Security card in the mail.
If you do not get your child's Social Security card in the indicated time, you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
How to Do It: At the Social Security Office
If you didn't deliver your baby at a hospital or you chose not to apply in the hospital, you will need to visit your local Social Security Administration office in order to get your baby a Social Security number. At the Social Security office, you will need
to do three things:
- Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5 );
- Provide original documents proving your child's identity, age and U.S. citizenship status; and
- Provide documents proving your identity (driver's license, passport, etc.).
Ideally, you should provide your child's original birth certificate or a certified copy of the birth certificate. Other documents that might be accepted include; hospital records of birth, religious records, U.S. passport. or U.S. immigration document. Note that children 12 and older will need to appear in person when applying for a Social Security number.
The SSA provides a complete list of documents accepted when applying for a new or replacement Social Security number on their web site at http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ss5doc.htm .
What About Adopted Children?
If your adopted child does not already have a Social Security number, the SSA can assign one. While the SSA can give your adopted child a Social Security number before the adoption is complete, you may want to wait. Once the adoption is complete, you will be able to apply using your child's new name, and listing you as the parent.
For tax purposes, you might want to claim an exemption for your adopted child before the adoption is still pending. In this case, you need to send the IRS a Form W-7A. Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions .
What Does it Cost?
Nothing. There is no charge for getting a new or replacement Social Security number and card. All Social Security services are free. If someone wants to charge you for getting a number or card, you should report them to the SSA's Office of the Inspector General hotline at 1-800-269-0271.