The current Social Security card consists of specially designed pre-printed banknote paper bearing the words, "Social Security," and the official seal of SSA. The statement, "This number has been established for," is printed across the official seal in the middle of the card. During the card issuance process, the SSN and the number holder's name are impact printed above and below this statement on card printing equipment operated by SSA.
Section 205(c)(2)(G) of the Social Security Act (as amended by section 345 of P.L. 98-21) required prospectively that new and replacement Social Security cards be made of banknote paper and (to the maximum extent practicable) be a card which cannot be counterfeited. SSA consulted with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Government Printing Office, and the Secret Service regarding the anti-counterfeiting features to be incorporated in the new card. Since October 1983, the current card incorporates these and a number of other security features appropriate to a paper card format, such as:
- The stock is a blue tint marbleized random pattern. Any attempt to erase or remove data is easily detectable because the tint is erasable. The words "Social Security" are printed in white.
- Planchettes (small multi-colored discs) are randomly placed on the paper stock and can be seen with the naked eye. These yellow, pink, and blue discs can appear anywhere on the card, including the area on the card that contains the seal and identifying information.
- Intaglio printing of the type used in U.S. currency is used for some areas on the front of the card. Intaglio printing on the card provides a "raised effect" and abrasiveness that can be felt when examined by touch. This printing technology is not widely available and is difficult to replicate.
- Other security features not obvious to the naked eye are not publicized.
Because of the SSA workload and burden on the public of replacing all cards still in use, SSA does not issue replacement cards whenever new security features are added or a new version of the card is approved. Thus, there are now 47 valid versions of the Social Security card in use; a large number of which are pre-1983 versions without counterfeit-resistant and tamper-proof security features.
Originally, SSA issued the same type of Social Security card to everyone. In May 1982, SSA began printing the legend, "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT," on the Social Security cards of noncitizens not authorized to work. This legend was added because of the increasing need for people to have SSNs for nonwork purposes, such as reporting taxes to IRS, and INS concerns that unauthorized people could use their SSNs for work. Since the IRS began assigning taxpayer identification numbers to noncitizens for tax purposes when the noncitizen does not meet the requirements for an SSN, there are only a few valid reasons for issuing a nonwork Social Security card. One such reason to issue a nonwork SSN, is to receive Federal benefits. A card with the legend,"NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT," is not acceptable evidence of employment eligibility under IRCA.
On September 14, 1992, SSA began printing the legend, "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION," on cards issued to noncitizens lawfully in the U.S. with temporary authority to work. In these cases employers must look at the noncitizen's INS document to determine if the noncitizen has current authorization to work in the U.S.
For more information and other things things you should know about the Social Security card, click here.
What is an ITIN?
An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service. It is a nine-digit number that always begins with the number 9 and has a range of 70-88 in the fourth and fifth digit. Effective April 12, 2011, the range was extended to include 900-70-0000 through 999-88-9999, 900-90-0000 through 999-92-9999 and 900-94-0000 through 999-99-9999. IRS issues ITINs to individuals who are required to have a U.S. taxpayer identification number, but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain a Social Security Number (SSN) from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.
Individuals must have a filing requirement and file a valid federal income tax return to receive an ITIN, unless they meet an exception.
Why is an ITIN used? ITINs are used for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs).
An ITIN does not authorize work in the U.S. or provide eligibility for Social Security benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Who needs an ITIN? IRS issues ITINs to foreign nationals and others who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements and do not qualify for SSNs. A nonresident alien individual not eligible for a SSN who is required to file a U.S. tax return only to claim a refund of tax under the provisions of a U.S. tax treaty needs an ITIN.
Other examples of individuals who need ITINs include:
- A nonresident alien required to file a U.S. tax return
- A U.S. resident alien (based on days present in the U.S.) filing a U.S. tax return
- A dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
- A dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
Are ITINs valid for identification? No. ITINs are not valid identification outside the Federal tax system. Since ITINs are strictly for tax processing, IRS does not apply the same standards as agencies that provide genuine identity certification.
ITIN applicants are not required to apply in person, and IRS does not further validate the authenticity of identity documents. ITINs do not prove identity outside the Federal tax system, and should not be offered or accepted as identification for non-tax purposes.
Are ITINs valid for work purposes? No. ITINs are for federal income tax purposes only. Getting an ITIN does not change your immigration status or your right to work in the United States.
Can ITINs be used as proof of identification to obtain a state driver's license? No. ITINs are not valid for identification outside the Federal tax system. For more information access the DMV communication provided to the state departments of motor vehicles.
What happens if the individual is assigned a Social Security Number (SSN)?
Once a SSN is received that number must be used for tax purposes and the ITIN is discontinued. It is improper to use both the ITIN and the SSN assigned to the same person to file tax returns. It is the individual's responsibility to notify the IRS so they can combine all tax records under one identification number.