By Josh Weller
Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
This is the season of caring. No matter your religion or belief, December is also considered a time to focus on the children we love. Whether we’re wrapping Santa’s gifts, buying Hanukkah treats, decorating the house in celebration of Kwanzaa, or volunteering for a toy drive, children add joy to the holiday season. And we at Social Security definitely know a thing or two about helping children.
Often overlooked in the paperwork that prospective parents fill out in preparation for a child’s birth is an application for a Social Security number and card. Typically, the hospital will ask if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your 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 ten 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 www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs .
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.
Remember, 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;
- 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; and
- The child must not be working and earning more than $1,090 a month in 2015. (This amount usually changes every year.) If he or she is working and earning that much money, your child will not be eligible for benefits.
Learn the details about benefits for children by reading our publication, Benefits for Children with Disabilities, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs .
Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids  to learn more about all we do to care for children. Caring for the next generation is a central part of securing today and tomorrow, during the holidays and all year long.