If you want to discover more about Social Security Number (SSN) in the US, including what it is, why it is important, how to get it, and what can substitute it, this article explains everything you need to know. So keep reading to discover more.
What is an SSN?
A Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique number the government issues to temporary/working residents, permanent residents, and US citizens under the Social Security Act section 205(C)(2). The Social Security Administration, an independent organization of the US Government, is responsible for issuing an SSN to each individual.
Initially, the primary purpose of an SSN was to track residents and their work history while ensuring their eligibility for benefits and computation. Still, it has become a national identification number for many other purposes, including tracking credit reports and taxation.
Individuals in the US are requested to provide their Social Security Numbers to create bank accounts, make significant purchases, obtain government benefits, and obtain credits, among others.
Why is SSN Important?
Having a Social Security Number is essential since it directly links to future benefits you may receive from the US Government. A Social Security Number helps the government track residents’ annual earnings and the period they have worked there. This data is helpful in terms of calculating potential financial benefits they may receive from the government, whether they relate to health insurance, disability income, or retirement income.
When individuals start working, employers request them to provide their SSNs, which are usually part of the hiring process. Once they hire, employers convey salary payment details associated with each Social Security Number and the withholdings they make to the IRS. The withholdings that employers make include contributions to Medicare and Social Security. Also, they convey this information to income tax organizations in the United States.
An SSN is also important as it’ll allow anyone living in the US to open financial accounts, apply for loans, apply for jobs, and obtain a driver’s license and passport. Additionally, it helps when enrolling in Medicare and as a unique identifier on tax returns.
How to get an SSN
Every individual who wants to obtain a Social Security Number must complete the application process. Keep in mind that each process is unique, depending on your situation. US citizens must fill out the SS-5 form online or at any nearby SSA field office.
And if you’re an immigrant, you’ll need to visit the nearby Social Security Administration office, where you’ll find the SS-5 form and fill it out. The SSN will be available between two and three weeks for these two types of applications. Keep in mind that any individual with an H1B Visa is considered an immigrant and not a citizen.
If you’re a green card holder, you’ll need to fill out the DS 230 form, which is an application for an immigrant visa and alien registration. Alternatively, you can fill out the DS 260 form that includes an electronic immigrant visa application from the State Department of the US. In this case, you don’t have to visit any SSN office and fill out a separate Social Security Number application form to obtain your SSN.
Non-immigrants, including visa holders such as students, can apply for their Social Security Numbers by visiting the nearest SSA office and filling out form SS-5. If you aren’t eligible for an SSN, you can seek help from professionals who help non-US residents apply for EIN or ITIN without physically visiting the country. Through the services these professionals provide, non-US residents can apply and receive them without any issues.
Can non-US residents get SSNs?
Only non-US residents authorized to work in the country by the Department of Homeland Security can get a Social Security Number. Legally admitted non-US residents can get numerous services and benefits without getting an SSN, as long as they have EIN or ITIN. You don’t need an SSN to get private health insurance, register for school, or apply for subsidized housing or lunch programs.
What can I use instead of SSN?
You can use EIN or ITIN instead of an SSN. Due to numerous identity thefts reported in the US, companies have started using EINs or ITINs instead of SSNs.
Also known as the Employer Identification Number, EIN is a unique number that identifies any business or company operating in the US. While an EIN also includes nine digits, its format differs from the ITIN or SSN. Any business entity operating in the US, including partnerships, estates, trusts, LLCs, and corporations, can obtain an EIN.
ITIN stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which designates United States residents as well as non-residents with overseas status for tax purposes. An ITIN number starts with 9 and follows the SSN’s format.
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number is for individuals who cannot get a Social Security Number but still need taxpayer identification. ITIN covers non-resident aliens, dependents and spouses of US citizens, and non-resident aliens who want to file tax returns or claim treaty benefits.
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Non-US citizens can’t get an SSN number. Instead, they are eligible for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). If you are a non-US citizen and want to get an EIN or ITIN, you can obtain one without traveling to the US by utilizing the services of Workhy. Workhy applies for EIN and ITIN on behalf of non-US citizens who want to set up a company in the US. Visit our website for detailed information about our services and get help from the experienced team at Workhy for your EIN or ITIN applications.