Social Security Number

A Social Security number (SSN) is a government-issued nine-digit number used for identification and earnings tracking in the United States. All U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and some eligible temporary residents can apply for a Social Security number.

SSNs are used to track individuals’ earnings, years worked, Social Security contributions, taxes, and Social Security benefits. Employers use their employee’s SSNs to report earned income to the IRS for tax purposes. The wages reported to your SSN help determine your eligibility and payout for things like disability and retirement benefits.

So, you cannot legally work in the U.S. without an SSN. However, some individuals who are not authorized to work in the U.S. may still need a Social Security card. In this case, they can apply for a restricted card that will indicate that it is not valid for employment purposes.

In addition to employment, you will also need an SSN to:

  • Apply for a passport
  • Get a driver’s license
  • Open a bank account
  • Apply for government assistance
  • Apply for a loan
  • Enroll in Medicare
  • File your tax return
  • Apply for Social Security benefits

Your Social Security Number (SSN) can be found on your Social Security card. You may also be able to find it on things like your W-2, pay stubs, and tax documents. If you’ve lost your Social Security card, you can get a replacement for free from the Social Security Administration.

Check out the replacement process here: How to get a replacement social security card

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