Social Security and Obtaining a Card

The United States has a nationwide retirement account that employees and employers pay into known as Social Security. The program is based on contributions in the form of taxes. For employees, taxes are withheld from paychecks and benefits are received later on after retirement.

A nine-digit number is assigned for life to all U.S. citizens and is used as a means to track income for this taxation system. This nine-digit number is referred to as a Social Security Number or SSN.

If you are receiving benefits through National Jewish Health or other U.S. sources or paying taxes in the United States, you are required to obtain a SSN. Also, if you choose to apply for a Colorado Drivers License you will need an SSN or the form of ineligibility described in the “Transportation” section under “Living in Denver”. Also, you may encounter various requests for an SSN while doing business in Denver or in other parts of the U.S. Although the SSN is not meant for identification purposes, some businesses continue to request this information.

If you plan to obtain an SSN, it is important that you wait approximately 15 business days (2 weeks) after your arrival before applying for the SSN. This allows enough time for the Social Security Administration to receive your entry information and confirm your legal status. Visit the Social Security Administration website to get specific instructions on how to apply for an SSN.

 

Visa Type

Description

Social Security Status

H – 1B

Professional worker in specialty occupation

Required to obtain an SSN; EAD* not required

H – 4

Dependent of H visa holder

Unable to obtain SSN; not permitted to work in U.S. or receive compensation from any U.S. source

J – 1

Exchange Visitor, short-term scholar

Required to obtain SSN if receiving benefits and/or payment from National Jewish Health or other American companies; EAD not required

J – 2

Dependent of J-1 visa holder

Required to obtain SSN if receiving benefits and/or payment from National Jewish Health or other American companies; EAD required

F – 1

Student

Required to obtain SSN if receiving benefits and/or payment from National Jewish Health or other American companies; EAD required

F – 2

Dependent of F visa holder

Unable to obtain SSN; not permitted to work in U.S. or receive compensation from any U.S. source

TN

Trade NAFTA; Foreign Nationals of Mexico and Canada

Required to obtain SSN if receiving benefits and/or payment from National Jewish Health or other American companies; EAD not required

 

* EAD (Employment Authorization Document) is the document that proves  that the holder is authorized to work in the United States without restrictions.

To locate the nearest Social Security office, visit the Social Security Office Locator.