Non-citizens can get some benefits

Dear Editor:

If you’re not a citizen and you’re not working, you probably don’t need a Social Security number. Most people in the United States have a Social Security number because they need it to work, but if you don’t have Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) permission to work in the United States, you usually don’t need a number.

As a non-citizen, you can obtain many benefits and services without having a Social Security number even though you may be asked for one. You don’t need a Social Security number to: purchase savings bonds; conduct business with a bank or financial institution; register for school or apply for educational tests; report group health insurance coverage; apply for school lunch programs or apply for HUD housing.

If you have permission to work and need to apply for a number, call Social Security on our toll free number 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to visit the local office. You must bring with you original documents or certified copies made by the custodian or the official who keeps the record. The documents must show your age, identity and lawful alien status (including your permission to work in the United States.)

If you don’t have permission to work, but still need a Social Security number, bring a letter from the government agency requiring you to get one. The letter must specifically identify you, explain the law requiring you to have a number and state that you meet all the requirements for the benefit or service, except having the number.

You may want to use our Internet website,, to print a copy of the application for a Social Security number. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, may call our toll-free “TTY” number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on business days to make an appointment.

Yvonne Bryant
Social Security Manager, Jersey City


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