How do I apply for my replacement card from inside?

The process for requesting a replacement Social Security card while you are incarcerated is the same whether your facility has a MOU with the SSA or not. Follow these steps:

Get and fill out the application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5).

The recommended way to get this form is by calling the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 and asking to have the form mailed to you. You may also be able to get the form by writing to your local Field Office or the closest Social Security Administration Regional Office. The Regional Office that serves California is:


Regional Public Affairs Office

P.O. Box 4201

Richmond, CA 94804

Keep in mind that this office also serves Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, so it may take some time to process your request. You might also try asking your correctional counselor or other prison services staff if they have the form on hand. (For reference, we have included a sample Form SS-5 in Appendix D, PG. 94).

Gather the documents you will need.

You will need to submit two documents with your application:

    Certification of Inmate Identity: If your facility has a MOU agreement with the SSA, a designated prison official should verify your identity through prison records and issue a certification to the SSA (explanation of MOUs on PG. 39 above).[48] If your facility does not have a MOU agreement with the SSA, you should still ask for a certification. Talk to your correctional counselor; he or she should know who is the best person at the prison to give you a certification.
    Information Release — You need to sign an information release form, giving the SSA permission to send your Social Security card to your facility. Ask your correctional counselor for this form.


Whether or not your institution has a MOU agreement with the SSA, you should include the prison staff’s certification of your identity, as well as a copy of your prison ID card, if possible. In fact, you should include any and all documents related to your identity, because the SSA must consider everything. Start gathering documents while you’re incarcerated. If you don’t have primary forms of ID, you can use these types of proof after you get released, as well. Along with your birth certificate, these documents will probably be enough. For more information on “other proof of identity,” see PG. 41.

  1. 48

    Soc. Sec. Admin., Program Operations Manual System, RM 10225.125 Replacement SSN Cards for Prison Inmates Covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (February 27, 2014), RM 10225.130 Negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to Process Replacement SSN Cards for Prison Inmates (Oct. 27, 2009), RM 10225.135 Elements of Prisoner Replacement Card Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (Oct. 27, 2009).