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I misplaced my SS card, although I thought I knew where it was. I was able to go to the local SS office and show my driver's license, which had both a photo and my SS number on it. Had a new SS card soon after. Illinois no longer includes SS number on the driver's license so it might be harder now.

You will need a birth certificate to apply for SS benefits. I discovered what I had always thought was a birth certificate was actually a "registration of birth" from the US Commerce department. This was apparently what they did in 1945. Luckily Pennsylvania allows application for a replacement birth certificate online was simple and only cost $10.

Just get all your documents in order a few months before you apply for SS benefits and the process is simple.

As an aside, that replacement SS card I got by showing my Illinois driver's license later came in handy. Illionis started requiring proof of ID to renew a license and I had to show my SS card. A little irony there.
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