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Replacing Social Security Card is a Free Service

Q: Does it cost anything to replace my Social Security number (SSN) card?

A: No. Social Security does not charge for any program related service. There is no charge for an original Social Security number card (SSN), no charge to change your name and no charge to replace your card. Unfortunately, local SSA offices routinely hear from people who wasted money for a free service.

For any SSN action, go to www.socialsecurity.gov or directly to www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. Download the application (Form SS-5) there and learn what documents you need. You cannot transmit the application. Bring or mail it with your documents to a SSA office.

The official Social Security website is at www.socialsecurity.gov. Without the ".gov" it is not the real SSA website. Typing "Social Security" into any search engine results in many hits. Some go to sections of the official SSA website, others to national organizations or locations promoting viewpoints about Social Security. You will also find private commercial sites. Some for-profit sites clearly show that they have no connection but there are also those trying to make their advertisement look similar to the real SSA website.

Be careful about the sites you visit. Consumers nationwide are victimized each year by misleading advertisers. Using "Social Security" or "Medicare" in their names to entice the public, often these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security, free of charge.

As a popular example, a quick search of "replacing a Social Security card" locates advertisements for for-profit websites charging fees. Usually they take your money, with fees ranging up towards $50, obtain your personal information and provide a copy of the free SSA form with instructions to bring it to a SSA office. Earlier this month a person in the Grand Forks area lost about $100 and personal information for several family members to one of these sites. Really.

Be careful. Do not be tricked into paying a fee for a free service or information. For official Social Security information and services go to www.socialsecurity.gov. Remember: without the ".gov" it is not the real SSA website.

Q: Do Social Security number (SSN) cards expire and need renewal?

A: No, but anyone replacing a SSN card must prove they remain eligible to have one. There have been 50 different versions of the Social Security card since 1935, all still valid. Employers can verify that a name and SSN match online with the free, Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS), part of SSA Business Services Online (BSO), especially useful for those with a high employee turnover or seasonal employees. SSNVS does not screen for work authorization. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/business.htm for BSO details and registration.

Learn how to replace a SSN card at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. A SSN card is not identification. Do not routinely carry it with you.

Q: How important is age when filing for Social Security disability?

A: Disability for Social Security purposes is based on inability to work, a different definition from many other programs. Benefits are not payable for partial or short-term disability. In addition to having enough work, basically the disability must have lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death, you cannot do work that you did before and you cannot adjust to other work. With your medical condition, consideration is given to your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have.

Social Security will not consider your ability to adjust to other work based on age alone but advancing age can be an increasingly limiting factor in your ability to adjust to other work. For example, if a person is under age 50 Social Security generally does not consider that age will seriously affect their ability to adjust to other work. If in the age range of 50-54, your age along with a severe impairment and limited work experience may seriously affect your ability to adjust to other work. Once age 55 or older, age is considered to significantly affect the ability to adjust to other work.

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