Q. I've lost my Social Security card. How can I get a new one?
A. First, gather up various documents that prove your age, identity and U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status. A birth certificate, driver's license and passport may do the trick, but other types of documents can also work.
All documents must be originals or copies of originals certified by the agencies that issued them — no photocopies or notarized copies.
Obtain an application (PDF) for a Social Security card online or at your local Social Security office, fill it out and deliver it or mail it in, with the documents. They will be returned to you.
Social Security will send you your new card as soon as it verifies your documents. The new card will have the same number as the old one.
For more information, call 1-800-772-1213.
Q. My husband and I have adopted a child who was born in another country. How do we get a Social Security number for the child?
A. You're going to have to provide Social Security with documents that prove your child's age, identity and immigration status or U.S. citizenship. You'll also need to provide papers that establish your own identity, and your relationship, custody or responsibility for the child.
All documents must be originals or certified copies by the issuing agencies. Social Security will not accept photocopies or notarized copies.
Complete an application for a Social Security card. Then mail it in with the documents or drop everything off personally at your local Social Security office. The documents will all be returned to you.
Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.