Social Security Number


A Social Security Number (SSN)* is a unique, 9-digit identification number issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) for tax purposes. An SSN is required for anyone who will work and receive pay in the U.S. The SSN is used to report wages to the U.S. government.

Students in F-1 status are only eligible for an SSN with proof of an on-campus job or off-campus work permission. This is not a YSU rule, this is a regulation established by the SSA. YSU does not issue Social Security numbers. The Social Security office requires F-1 students to prove they have work permission as part of the SSN application process. J-1 visitors are automatically eligible for an SSN as a benefit of their status, regardless of whether or not the J-1 will be paid by YSU.

An SSN is issued once per lifetime.; If you have previously had an SSN, but do not have the card or do not remember the number, you can apply for a duplicate card if you meet the eligibility requirements. An SSN is not work permission. You may work while the SSN is being processed but you must have work permission before you begin working.

The Application Process and Required Documents:

STEP 1: Obtain an on campus job or off campus work permission.

STEP 2: Gather the required immigration and work eligibility documents:

Required Documents F-1 Students J-1 Students J-1 Scholars
The Application Process and Required Documents
Valid Passport Yes Yes Yes
I-94 Record Yes Yes Yes
Immigration Document I-20 DS-2019 DS-2019
Proof of Employment

You must present one of a, b, or c:

a) With on campus job: completed on campus employment form (get this form at Student Success - 3rd floor, Jones Hall)

b) On CPT: CPT I-20

c) On OPT: OPT I-20 and EAD card

Not required Not required

STEP 3: Complete Form SS-5 "Application for a Social Security Card"*

STEP 4: Apply in person at the local Social Security office with your completed application and eligibility documents.

  • Address: 345 E Federal Street, Youngstown, OH 44503
  • Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Wednesday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, closed Saturday, Sunday and all federal holidays. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before closing to process an SSN application.
  • If you are no longer in Youngstown, you can find a local SSN office

STEP 5: Wait for the SSN card. The card will be mailed to the address you used on the SS-5. Normal processing time is 10-15 business days. If you have not received your SSN card within 30 days of application, return to the Social Security office to inquire about the status of your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Social Security Number? If you will be working on campus, receiving a fellowship or stipend through Payroll or if you are a J-1 scholar being paid by YSU, then it is necessary for you to obtain a Social Security number.

Do I need an SSN to open a bank account, get utility services or a cell phone? No. Although the SSN will be requested during many daily activities such as banking, utilities, phones, etc., it is only required for employment. However, if you do not have an SSN you will likely have to follow additional procedures, such as paying a deposit.

Do I need an SSN before I start working? No. As long as you have work permission, you may begin to work while the SSN application is being processed. The SSN is an important number for tax purposes, so it is recommended that you apply for your SSN as soon as you can

When can I apply for an SSN? An SSN cannot be issued for on-campus employment or for authorized CPT or OPT if the start date for the employment is more than 30 days into the future.

How long will it take to get an SSN? SSA must verify your documents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before assigning you an SSN. After receiving verification from DHS, SSA will mail your Social Security card. Most of the time, you will receive your card within 7 to 14 business days. If you do not receive the card within 30 days, return to the Social Security office to inquire. DO NOT apply for a second card; you will have only one SSN issued in your lifetime.

What happens if my SSN card is lost or stolen? If your SSN card is lost or stolen, you can apply for a replacement card. To get a replacement card, you must take the same original documentation that you used when you first applied for an SSN, including proof of on campus job or off campus employment authorization (CPT, OPT). On the SS-5 form you will indicate that you are applying for a replacement. Your replacement card will have the same name and number as your previous card.

Tips to Secure Your Social Security Number

Keep your SSN card in a safe place. It is very important that you do not share your Social Security Number with anyone else as this can lead to Identity Theft, i.e., someone can use your SSN to perform illegal transactions or activities that will be attributed to you without your knowledge, such as opening a credit card.

Below are some tips that will help you to secure your Social Security Number:

  • Memorize your SSN.
  • Do not carry around your Social Security card in your wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe place and keep it forever, even after you leave the U.S. You are issued one SSN for life.
  • Do not give out your SSN to anybody, including your family members or friends, unless it is absolutely necessary. If you are required to do so, don’t hesitate to ask the reason they need your SSN.
  • Beware with online transactions. Normally you are not required to give out your SSN. If you are told to do so, be sure that the site is trusted and secured. In some cases, you may have to give the last four digits of your SSN.
  • As a customer, when you are talking with customer service agents requesting information or filing a complaint, avoid telling them your SSN. In most cases, agent will just ask you the last four digits of your SSN.