Original Social Security Number Application Forms

picture of original social security card
Image of the original 1936 Social Security Number card

The Original Social Security Number Process:

Social Security cards were first issued beginning in November 1936. The Post Office, employers and labor unions helped the Social Security Board distribute the necessary application forms. There were three basic forms used in the process, along with various explanatory materials. The original forms and explanatory materials from 1936 are reproduced below.

The Application Documents:

1. The first-step in the process involved distributing a form to employers which assigned an Identification Number to every employer who had employees covered under the new Social Security program. This form was the SS-4.

2. The employees were then given an SS-5 form to complete, which solicited the information needed to issue the SSN.

3. The information from the SS-5 form was then transferred to a form OA-702 which would be the Office Record of the application to be filed in the Social Security Board's headquarters in Baltimore. The actual card itself was a perforated tear-off from the OA-702 form.

Each of these three forms contained attached explanatory materials. Separate explanatory materials were also developed for the employers, the employees, and the Post Office workers who were involved in the process. All these documents are reproduced below. 

SS-4 Form with Attached Explanation

SS-5 Form with Attached Explanation

OA-702 Form with SSN Card and Office Record Form

Explanatory Card for Employers

Explanatory Pamphlet for Employees

Postmaster General's Instructions to Post Offices