Guard Your Card: Protect What’s Important to You

By Deborah Banikowski

We encourage you not to carry your Social Security card with you every day. The best way to guard your card is to keep it in a safe place and share it only when required. In fact, in most cases, just knowing the Social Security number should be enough. In 49 states and the District of Columbia, a Social Security card isn’t required to request a real ID. Only Pennsylvania requires it.

Please be careful about sharing your number when asked for it. You should always ask why your number is needed, how it will be used, and what will happen if you refuse.

Also, you shouldn’t carry documents that display your number.

If you need a replacement Social Security card, we make it easy. You may be able to use a personal my Social Security account to request a replacement on our website. If you live in one of 46 participating states or the District of Columbia, and are requesting a replacement card with no changes, like a name change, you can use our free online service at

• Visit our Social Security Number and Card page at to learn more about your Social Security card.

• Read our factsheet, “How You Can Help Us Protect Your Social Security Number and Keep Your Information Safe,” at

• Our “Guard Your Card” infographic at,, is another great resource to understand whether you need to show your card.

Please share these resources with your friends, and family — and post them on social media.

Q & A

Q: I’m 65, not ready to retire, but I want to apply for my Medicare coverage. How can I do that?
A: The easiest and most convenient way is to apply online. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. You’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. It’s convenient, quick and easy. There’s no need to drive to a local Social Security office or wait for an appointment with a Social Security representative. Get started today at

Q: How do I get a copy of the form, Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs?
A: If you wish to apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs, we recommend you use our online application at You can find instruction sheets in 15 different languages to help you understand the English application at If you prefer not to fill out this application online, you can call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), to ask for a paper application. Also, you can make an appointment at your local Social Security office to apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Q: I’m going to visit relatives outside the country for two weeks. Can I still get Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) payments while I’m there?
A: Your SSI usually will stop if you leave the United States for 30 consecutive days or more. Since you are going to be away for only two weeks, your SSI should not be affected. However, it’s important that you tell Social Security the date you plan to leave and the date you plan to come back. Then we can let you know whether your SSI will be affected. For more information, visit or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Q: Can a noncitizen get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
A: The laws and regulations concerning noncitizens differ for Social Security and SSI programs. Social Security administers both, even though they have different eligibility requirements. Some noncitizens do qualify for SSI. See Supplemental Security Income (SSI) For Noncitizens at for more information.

Q: My brother had an accident at work last year and is now receiving Social Security disability benefits. His wife and son also receive benefits. Before his accident, he helped support another daughter by a woman he never married. Is the second child entitled to benefits?
A: The child may qualify for Social Security benefits even though your brother wasn’t married to the second child’s mother. The child’s caretaker should file an application on her behalf. For more information, visit