A Guide to Applying for Your Adopted Child’s Social Security Card

A Guide to Applying for Your Adopted Child’s Social Security Card
A Guide to Applying for Your Adopted Child's Social Security Card. Image source: Pixabay

Most people focus on the shiny part of adoption and completely overlook the paperwork. Adopting a child can be a wonderful experience. Especially, the moment you finally get to take your newest family member home. The process to get to that point is tedious. One factor that takes many budding parents by surprise is getting their newly adopted child a social security card. There are a lot of factors that affect this. One factor, for instance, is citizenship as many adopt children outside the U.S. If you have a newly adopted child at home, here is a complete guide to getting that child their social security card.

For U.S. Adoptions

When Should You Do It?

A new application for a child’s SS card should be filled out the moment you receive that child’s birth certificate. A birth certificate is one of two documents needed to prove the child’s citizenship, age, and identity. The other document can vary but the birth certificate is a requirement.

Why Should You Do It?

An SSN serves a variety of purposes. It allows you to claim your child as a dependent, get them medical coverage, open up a bank account in their name, start a college fund, or apply for government services. It is also fundamental proof of identity.

In the case of U.S. adoptions, most children already have an SS card. However, the birth parents filled out the application for this card. This means they are listed as the parents and have access to your child’s information. Applying for a new card offers confidentiality. It protects your child from misuse or fraud. It also places you as the parent which is optimal for legal purposes.

How Do You Do It?

There are two ways to apply for an adopted child’s SS card. You can apply at the hospital when the child is born or in person at your local SSA Office. Applying when your baby is born only includes adoptive parents of an infant. If you are a parent adopting an older child that moment has already passed.

Applying at the Hospital – Traditionally, the first SS card application is filled out by the baby’s birth parents. However, as many adoptions take place before the infant is born, it is possible for the adopting parents to fill out the paperwork instead. This is because they are actually present when the child is delivered.

If you think ahead simply talk to the social worker or nurse charged with the paperwork and see if you can fill it out. If you make the initial application then the first SS card will have you listed as the parent. This means you can avoid visiting the SSA office. The card will be delivered to you and there will be no more hassle.

Applying at the SSA – Most often new SSNs for adopted children require a visit to a physical office. This is because the adopted parents are not present at the birth. This process can be a bit tedious but is also pretty straight forward. Your child does not actually have to be in attendance, all you need is the required paperwork. You need the child’s birth certificate, another document that proves identity, form SS-5, and proof of your identity.

The process is not complicated at all. All you have to do is fill out the form and submit the documentation to the SSA. There is no charge for applying for a new SSN, but you do need to bring the original documents. They will not accept copies. This is one of two pitfalls parents can fall into. The other is related to number 11 on the SS-5.

The question asks if your child has a prior SS number. Many parents mistakenly say ‘yes’. This lengthens the process. No matter if your child has a prior SSN or not you should always mark ‘no’. The reason behind this is that your application is for a new card with your child’s new name. As most prior SSN’s contain their old name the answer is valid. the only reason to answer ‘yes’ is if the birth parent put the child’s new name on the initial paperwork.

Answering ‘no’ on number 11 saves time and aggravation. It also allows the process of receiving the card to happen faster. You can also get a head start by accessing SS-5 from the SSA’s website. This way you can fill it out prior to even showing up. It takes about 6 to 12 weeks before the child’s new card arrives.

Abroad Adoptions

Many parents adopt their children from overseas. This complicates the SSN process a little in terms of citizenship. Do not worry, this does not mean you child will not be a citizen. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 provides ‘automatic’ citizenship to every adopted child. The act became effective February 27, 2001. The issue complicating SSN application is that said application requires proof of citizenship. When your child first arrives in the U.S. it will not have that proof yet. Luckily, you can get the ball rolling with your child’s DHS papers.

When Should I Do It?

As with U.S. born children you should apply for an SSN the moment you receive your child’s birth certificate.

Why Should I Do It?

As aforementioned a child’s SSN allows you to claim them as a dependent, get them a bank account, seek government aid, apply for healthcare, and set up any type of trust fund. However, unlike U.S. born children your child will not have an SSN. So you have to apply to give them one. This is a fundamental part of their identity.

How to Apply – Application for a foreign child’s SSN is exactly the same as a U.S. born child. You have to go to the SSA office and fill out the paperwork. The only difference is that you will have to bring the child’s DHS papers. As stated before you will need two documents, one being the child’s birth certificate, and they have to be originals. No copies are accepted. Other documents you can use for proof of identity are: hospital records, adoption records, school records, and religious records. You also need form SS-5 and proof of your own identity. Simply fill out the paperwork and turn it in.

Update – The main difference in applying for a foreign child’s social security card is that the file will have to be updated once actual proof of citizenship arrives. The child will instantly be granted citizenship thanks to the Child Citizenship Act, but citizenship will not show up on their SSN record until proof is provided. All you have to do is apply for that proof and then submit the documents once they arrive. This requires additional paperwork and an additional visit to the SSA. Once the paperwork is turned in your child’s file will be updated.