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Social Security Numbers & Massachusetts ID

A Social Security Number (“SSN”) is a unique identification number that allows the U.S. government to monitor your taxable wages earned as an employee in the U.S. As an international student, you only qualify for a Social Security Number if you have been authorized to work in the U.S.

The SSN does not grant you U.S. employment authorization. It simply provides an identifying number allowing you to be paid for any authorized work at a U.S. based employer and for that employer to deduct the appropriate taxes on behalf of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

An SSN, which appears on the Social Security Card, is not required for you to open a U.S. bank account, buy a cell phone, or rent an apartment. The SSN is requested for these and many other financial transactions because it is commonly used to check financial credit history, but you will only be eligible for a SSN if you have authorization to work in the U.S.

For more information about Social Security Numbers, you can consult these pages of the Social Security Administration website:
In order to qualify for a SSN, you must be physically present in the U.S. in an Immigration Status that permits employment.

As an F-1 Student, you are eligible to apply for a SSN if you have any of the following types of U.S. work authorization:

- Secured on-campus employment as a student worker
- Have received CPT authorization from a DSO at MCPHS. You can apply for an SSN as soon as 30 days prior to your approved CPT start date.
- Have received OPT authorization USCIS. You cannot apply for an SSN until the start date listed on your EAD.
When possible, you should obtain your Social Security Card before you begin any work in the U.S. so that all onboarding paperwork can be completed. However, you are not required to obtain a Social Security Card before you begin employment, so in such a case, you then inform your employer as soon as you receive your SSN so that they can modify your withholdings for payroll purposes.

You will need to submit a complete application for a Social Security Card to the Social Security Administration in-person at a local Social Security Administration (“SSA”) office. You can review the following documents to determine what you need to bring with you and to locate your local SSA office:

- SSN Application Checklist
- F1 Certification for SSN
- Requesting Enrollment Verifications through WebAdvisor
- Social Security Office Locator

You can also review the Social Security Administration website for more details.
The Social Security Administration may need some time to verify your F-1 Status before they can issue a Social Security Card. In most cases, a Social Security Card should be mailed to the address you listed on your application form within 14 business days. If you do not receive a Social Security Card within 30–60 days, you should contact the SSA via telephone at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit the Social Security Administration website to check the status of your pending application.

The notation on the Social Security Card should read “Valid for Employment Only with DHS Authorization.” This clarifies to your employer that the Social Security Card itself does not give you work permission in the U.S. and that you will need to obtain separate work permission in order to start working. You may review the Employment, Rotations, & Internships section of our website for more information regarding employment authorization.

To find out more about the SSA in your native language, you can visit the Social Security Multilanguage Gateway. For Free Language Interpreter Services, you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Massachusetts ID

If you are interested in applying for a state ID, please review the following information: