Social Security’s gift to children is security

During the holiday season, most of us, regardless of religion or beliefs, focus on the children we love. Caring for children is one of the best ways to safeguard the future. And we at Social Security know a thing or two about helping children.

The application for a Social Security number and card is sometimes overlooked in the paperwork that parents fill out in preparation for a child’s birth. Typically, the hospital will ask new mothers if they want to apply for a Social Security number for their newborn as part of the birth registration process. This is the easiest and fastest way to apply. The Social Security card typically arrives about a week to 10 days after that little bundle of joy! You can learn about Social Security numbers for children by reading our publication, Social Security Numbers for Children, available at

A child needs a Social Security number if he or she is going to have a bank account, if a relative is buying savings bonds for the child, if the child will have medical coverage, or if the child will receive government services. You’ll also need a Social Security number for a child to claim him or her on your tax returns.

If you wait to apply, you will have to visit a Social Security office and you’ll need to:

Complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5);

Show us original documents proving your child’s U.S. citizenship, age, and identity; and

Show us documents proving your identity.

A child age 12 or older requesting an original Social Security number must appear in person for the interview, even though a parent or guardian will sign the application on the child’s behalf.

Children with disabilities are among our most vulnerable citizens. Social Security is dedicated to helping those with qualifying disabilities and their families through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSI:

The child must have a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions, resulting in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must severely limit your child’s activities;

The child’s condition(s) must be severe, last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death; and

The child must not be working and earning more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit ($1,180 a month in 2018).

If your child’s condition(s) does not result in “marked and severe limitations,” or does not result in those limitations lasting for at least 12 months, your child will not qualify for SSI.

Family resources are also considered. If the parents of the child or children have more resources than are allowed, then the child or children will not qualify for SSI. You can read more about children’s benefits at

Visit to learn more about all we do to care for children. Social Security is with you and your children through your life’s journey, securing today and tomorrow.

Maria Diaz is a public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration. If you have Social Security questions, call

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