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Do Social Security Cards Expire?

Your social security card is one of the most important documents you’ll ever own in your life. That’s because the piece of paper is the official home of your social security number, one of the most important pieces of information about you.

If you have an older, worn-down card, you might be wondering: will my card expire one day?

The answer is no. But you still may need to replace it.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about social security cards, expiration, and other reasons you might need to replace your card—and how to do so at social security office locations.

Is There an Expiration Date for Social Security Cards?

No. There is no social security expiration date to worry about. There never has been, and it’s unlikely there will be one, at least in the near future.

Social security numbers are permanent.

Permanence of Social Security Numbers

Social security numbers are so permanent that they outlast even the people they belong to.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is adamant that, even upon a cardholder’s death, his or her number will not be reassigned to any new applicant. That means that social security numbers never expire, even when their owners do.

However, some historical caveats to these rules governing social security numbers apply:

In the early days of registration, some cardholders were given duplicate account numbers already previously assigned.

  • Likewise, in early years many individuals received multiple social security numbers:
    • About three or four percent, according to studies conducted in 1937-38.
    • Many workers thought they needed a new SSN card for each job worked.
    • Others believed that the more cards one had, the better.
  • In one case, a wallet manufacturer published a secretary’s social security number to consumers, many of whom adopted the number and used it as their own:
    • In 1943, the peak year, 5,755 individuals were using this number.
    • There were still 12 individuals using it as of 1977.
    • There were 40,000 such cases of individua’s earnings thus falsely reported.
    • All misreported earnings were reassigned to their proper respective numbers.
    • The number was voided, and its original owner was provided a new number.
  • To this day, under extreme circumstances, an individual may be assigned a new social security number.

There are just under one billion possible nine-digit number combinations, and less than half have already been assigned. With over five million assigned each year, the number pool will eventually be exhausted. Some day, there may be time limits that result in an expired card. But that day is still far off.

For now, once numbers are issued, they stick with a person.

Dates on Social Security Cards

Even though there is no such thing as a social security card expiration date, some social security cards do have dates on them. That’s because, as of October 2007, the SSA began printing the issue date on the front of each card.

So, if you see a date on a social security card, all it indicates is the date of issuance—and that the card is relatively new. Wondering what the other numbers on your social security card mean? For more information on a social security number breakdown, read on!

In the early days of this change, there was a trend of people crossing out the issue date and writing their birth date instead. Some tax preparers and employers who required valid social security cards for authorization took pause. However, these markings don’t invalidate cards. Per the SSA, as long as the cardholder’s name and social security number are intact and unchanged, the card is valid. There’s no need to replace a card with the issue date altered.

There are some reasons a card may need to be replaced, though.

When to Replace Your Social Security Card

Even though a social security card will never expire, there are certain cases in which you may need a replacement card.

Some of the most common reasons include:

If Your Card is Lost

If your card is stolen, misplaced, or otherwise lost, you’ll need to order a replacement. You’ll also need to take security measures to report a lost social security card:

  • To prevent any fraud/identity theft related to the lost card
  • To ensure that your new card isn’t stolen again

Whether the loss was preventable or not, its potential consequences can be serious. You’ll want to safeguard against any possible losses related to the old or new cards.

If Your Card is Illegible

If your card is rendered illegible, you’ll need to replace it with one that can be authenticated properly. Some common reasons include:

  • Rips or tears
  • Fading from sunlight
  • Spills and markings

Most employers or tax preparers will want to see a legible card in good condition. In some cases, being able to provide a legible card will determine your employment eligibility.

If the Key Information is Altered

Likewise, any marks or alterations to the key information on the card (your name and social security number) compromises its authenticity and necessitates a replacement.

If you marked your card in an attempt to correct or falsify information, it’s no longer valid.

If Your Card Must Be Corrected

Many changes to your biographical information that is represented on the card necessitate an updated replacement. For example, common updates include:

  • Official name changes from marriage
  • A corrected birthdate
  • Gender confirmation

In any of these cases, you may need to replace your social security card. However, all you’re changing is the physical SSN card itself, and some information on it, in some cases. Unless you’re facing extreme circumstances, you’re not changing the number itself.

Let’s cover how you go about replacing the card, should you need to.

How to Replace Your Social Security Card

Replacing important government documents can often be a hassle. That’s true whether the reason is unfortunate (it was stolen) or more joyous (a marriage).

If you do need to replace your card, one silver lining is that all cardholders are eligible for:

  • Up to ten replacements over their lifetime
  • A maximum of three replacements per calendar year

If you go over the yearly limit, you’ll have to wait until the next year to apply for another card. If you go over the lifetime limit, you won’t be able to get a new card. However, if you can prove to the SSA that there’s a dire need for one, such as potential loss of income, you may be able to get a replacement over the limit.

Assuming you’re eligible for a replacement, the process can be done in-person at a local SSA office. Wondering "Can I order a new social security card online?" In select states, a social security card replacement is also available online.

In either case, it involves a handful of steps:

Step 1: Gathering Documentation

In order to apply for a replacement card, you’ll need to be able to prove various forms of identification. In-person, you’ll need official documents such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, or state ID. Online, just the relevant information from these documents is acceptable.

Whether online or in-person, you’ll need to be able to produce:

  • Your social security number as it appears on your social security card
  • Your name as it appears on your social security card
  • Your date and place of birth as they appear on your birth certificate
  • Information from your driver’s license or state identification card

Once you have your documents and information ready, you’ll need to fill out the application.

Step 2: Filling Out the Application

Filling out the application means transferring information from your documents onto form SS-5.

The five-page document details many of the instructions you’ll need to follow when applying for a new card, for various reasons. The fifth page is the part that must be filled in and submitted. Those seeking corrections to their card must be sure to include:

  • Name to be shown on card (new name)
  • Full name at birth (as it appears on birth certificate)
  • Name shown on most recent social security card

Once the form is completed, you can bring it into a local SSA office, along with your proof of identity and other documents. Or, in some states, you can submit the paperwork by mail or online.

Then, the next step is to wait.

Step 3: Waiting for Your New Card in the Mail

Finally, this step is easiest. All you have to do is sit back and wait for your application to be processed and for the card itself to be shipped to you.

The application can take one business day or more to process. Then, You can expect to receive your card within ten to fourteen business days (two to three weeks).

All told, the process can be lengthy and burdensome. That’s why more and more people are turning to professionals to get their replacement cards faster and easier.

Save Time with NotYourSocialSecurity

Here at NotYourSocialSecurity, the goal is making it easier for you to apply for a replacement social security card. As you now know, there’s no SSN expiration date for you to worry about. However, there are plenty of reasons you may need to get a new card. If you want to save time by avoiding long lines at your local SSA office, our E-Records tool is your best option.

We make it possible to complete your application on your own time, from the comfort of your home. We also offer customer assistance throughout the whole process. Having trouble filing? Our support will answer your call in under 30 seconds. That support is available even after you apply—we have your back.

For safe, step-by-step support with all things social security, get in touch today.


SSA. Frequently Asked Questions.

SSA. The Story of the Social Security Number. A

SSA. Social Security Number and Card.

SSA. W-2 News, Issue 2008-04.