Popular Social Security Questions | Adviser Investments

Answers to Popular Social Security Questions

No surprise that there are popular Social Security questions that frequently arise. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has assigned more than 453 million Social Security numbers and paid out trillions of dollars since the program’s inception in 1935.

Given all this activity, investors’ interest in the topic isn’t surprising.

However, what is surprising is how popular some Social Security questions are, including those concerning your actual Social Security card.

So, if you want to know more details about your Social Security card, keep reading. You may be surprised by some of our answers.

Can You Laminate Your Social Security Card?

No, you should not laminate your Social Security card.

According to the SSA, laminating your Social Security card prevents detection of many security features. For example, the anti-counterfeiting features built into the card can be obscured if the card is laminated. Also, once laminated, the SSA can’t guarantee the card’s validity.

To protect your card, keep it in a plastic sleeve and store it in a safe place, like a firebox in your basement. Also, don’t store your card in your wallet or routinely carry it around. If your wallet is stolen, thieves now have your Social Security card, increasing the possibility of identity theft.

Can a Parent Sign a Child’s Social Security Card?

No, you should not sign your child’s Social Security card.

Instead, the SSA recommends children wait until age 18 or for when they get their first job to sign their card, whichever is earlier. Also, a Social Security card is not an identity document and, therefore, doesn’t need to be signed to be valid.

Although, as an added level of identity protection, adults should sign their Social Security cards.

Is it Safe to Text Someone Your Social Security Number?

No, it’s not safe to text your Social Security number because texting is not a secure form of communication. SMS messages (aka text messages) aren’t encrypted, meaning the contents are viewable to mobile carriers and governments, and can be intercepted by hackers.

Overall, if you’re contemplating sharing your Social Security number, first refer to the table below. It includes a list of questions to ask the recipient beforehand.

Can I send someone my Social Security Number?

Your Social Security card is a highly sensitive document and should be shared with as few people as possible. Aside from financial institutions, employers or clients who need to report your income to the IRS, most entities do not need your Social Security number.

The best way to share your Social Security number is in person or live over the phone. Avoid emailing or leaving it on voicemails.

Does a Social Security Card Expire?

No, Social Security cards do not expire. However, in 2007, the SSA began printing issuance dates on cards. It’s also good to know that Social Security numbers don’t get reassigned after someone dies.

Can an Irrevocable Trust Use a Social Security Number?

No, an irrevocable trust may not use a Social Security number. Instead, the trust’s trustee must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS by completing Form SS-4.

Irrevocable trusts are an entity and are required to file annual income tax returns using a unique tax ID.

Similarly, many investors maintain a living trust, and any income generated by the trust is reported by the trust’s grantor (creator) on their personal income taxes using their Social Security number. However, upon the grantor’s death, the trust immediately converts to an irrevocable trust, ultimately necessitating an EIN.

When Should You File for Social Security? (Resources)

While this isn’t a Social Security card question, it’s likely the most frequent Social Security question we receive. So much so that we’ve created an exclusive suite of material on the topic. Check out our special report entitled Social Security’s Role in Your Retirement, refer to our detailed blog post answering commonly asked questions, “When Should You File for Social Security?”, and the three-part podcast series hosted by some of our experienced financial planners.

Next Steps

Your Social Security card may be small, but it has an outsized role in your life and, therefore, extra consideration should be given to how you share and store it. We hope you’ve found our answers to these popular Social Security questions useful.

Also, it’s important to create a My Social Security Account, a personal account with the Social Security Administration. No matter your age, you’ll want to monitor your account to ensure your annual income is reported correctly, receive ongoing statements and obtain retirement benefit estimates.

Finally, if you’re nearing retirement, read our post: Planning in Your 60s: 5 Things to Do Before You Retire. There are many considerations before retiring—these five belong on the top of the list.

Related Special Report

Social Security’s Role in Your Retirement

Tax and legal information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Personalized tax advice and tax return preparation is available through a separate, written engagement agreement with Adviser Investments Tax Solutions. We do not provide legal advice. Always consult a licensed attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Our statements and opinions are subject to change without notice.  All investments carry risk of loss and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

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