In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents. The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the United States government. Its primary purpose is to track individuals for Social Security purposes, but, is also used to track wages and reporting of income to the government.
The SSN assigned to you when you apply is your number for your entire life. If you return to the U.S. in the future, you will keep the same SSN.
Your Social Security card is not an identity card and should not be used in everyday situations. You should not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place. To learn about identity theft, please read our information on Safety.
Important: All documents submitted must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. SSA cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
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Social Security Office Location and Hours
Search The Social Security Website for a convenient office location.
The closest Social Security Administration Office to the Washington University campuses is on 5669 Delmar Boulevard, 63112 (between DeBaliviere and Goodfellow streets), next to the People’s Health Center. The office can be easily reached by public transportation. Both the Forest Park-DeBaliviere Metrolink station and a Gold Line bus stop are within half a mile south from the office.
This office is open from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. You may make an appointment, but it is not required. Visitors without appointments will need to check in electronically near the entrance. You will be served by number. The busiest times are Mondays and the first week of each month. Walk-in visitors will be served more quickly if they avoid visiting the office at these busy times.
You can expect the processing of your application to take about two to four weeks. You will then receive your Social Security card in the mail.
Important Info About the SSN
Be careful with your Social Security card and number to prevent theft! Keep your card in a safe place. Do not carry your card with you. Also, be aware that your Social Security card is not an identity card and that your number should not be used in everyday situations. Only give your number in official situations dealing directly with employment, banking, or taxes, and verify that your number will be kept confidential. If you suspect fraud, report it to the Social Security Administration immediately.
For More Information
Helpful information is available on the Social Security Administration’s website or you can call on business days between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at 1-800-772-1213.
If you encounter problems, contact your international advisor at the OISS.