Understanding Your SSN and Social Security Card

Your Social Security card is one of the most important documents you can obtain. The Social Security Administration (SSA) distributes these identifiers to U.S. citizens and certain residents. Whether you want to work in the United States or take out a loan, it is important that you have a valid Social Security number (SSN) and card.

If you are getting a new Social Security card, you must know the type of ID you qualify for. All Social Security (SS) cards may seem similar, but they are not. In fact, these different types of Social Security cards can denote your immigration status or work eligibility. Therefore, it is important that you understand which document is correct for you.

What are the different types of Social Security cards?

You can only get a Social Security card that you are eligible for. Likewise, if you already have an SS card, it is important that you know which type of document you possess. The SSA issues three different types of cards to enrollees.

Social Security Card Without Restrictions

This Social Security card is the most flexible of the three available options. U.S. citizens are eligible for these documents. Permanent, lawful residents of the United States may also qualify for these documents.

If you receive this card, it should have your Social Security number and name printed on it. Furthermore, this work authorization Social Security card permits you to work anywhere in the country without restrictions.

Social Security Card Requiring DHS Authorization

This second type of document is a restricted Social Security card. This means that individuals in possession of this ID can only work if they have expressed permission from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Usually, this document is issued to new U.S. residents who are temporarily admitted to the country. There is a notification printed on the card that the cardholder can only work after obtaining DHS authorization.

Social Security Card Not Valid for Employment

It is possible to receive Social Security numbers for noncitizens. Usually, individuals who need SSNs are given them so they can apply for certain types of benefits. However, recipients who receive Social Security numbers but cannot work will be issued specific cards. This document includes a disclaimer that states the cardholder is not valid for employment.

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