Social Security is trying to reduce theft of Social Security numbers and related fraud by cutting back on when and how the agency prints Social Security numbers.
Beginning Aug. 1, Social Security will no longer offer benefit verification letters via postal mail. If you are asked to provide one of these letters because you are applying for a mortgage or you need to prove for some other reason that you get -- or don't get -- Social Security disability or supplemental income, you will need to download and print a letter electronically through your personal MySocialSecurity.gov account.
If you haven't yet established a MySocialSecurity account, to do so you will need to provide some personal information, and you'll be asked to come up with a complex password and answer some security questions. The process takes about 10 minutes. Or you can ask for assistance at a Social Security office. If you ask someone else for help, choose your helper carefully. Pick someone you know you can trust.
If you are disabled and need special accommodations, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). If you can't access your MySocialSecurity.gov account because you have blocked electronic access to your account, moved to another residence, changed your name, placed a freeze on your credit report or have been a victim of domestic violence, you can go in person with identification to the Social Security office for help.
Agencies and organizations that routinely need this kind of information for legitimate reasons have been notified of this change by Social Security and should be able to help you manage the process. Or, under some circumstances, larger organizations with a high demand for verifications may be able to use Social Security's data exchanges to access this information.
If you need a replacement Social Security card for yourself, you can still order one from Social Security. If your baby was born in a hospital, you'll be asked to register the child for a Social Security number before you leave, and that card will arrive by postal mail. If the baby was born elsewhere, you can request a number for the child yourself. For either a new or a replacement card, fill out the online application and mail or take the form to the Social Security office with required identification, usually a birth certificate for a child or a government photo I.D. for an adult.
Fraud and identity theft are ongoing problems for Social Security and can also be a personal disaster for anyone living in retirement. Take anti-fraud steps as part of your retirement planning. Your Social Security number is printed on your Medicare card. Medicare.gov recommends that you "Treat your Medicare card like it's a credit card." Other experts suggest that you carry only a photo copy of your Medicare card with all but the last four digits of your Social Security number blacked out.