How to Create a my Social Security Account When You Get an Error Message

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Ever since 2013 when we first wrote about Social Security moving online and going paperless, I have tried to set up a my Social Security account but I was always met with the same error message. After entering all my personal information, it would say:

We cannot create an account for the Social Security number you entered.

For further assistance, please contact us.

Over the years, I always wondered if I was too young or didn’t have enough credit history for them to verify my identity. However now, two houses and six more years later, I started to suspect that something else was up.

Clicking on the “contact us” has the following instructions:

You can speak to a Social Security representative for help with a my Social Security account between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight Eastern Time, Monday through Friday:

Toll-free:
1-800-772-1213

After you hear “Briefly tell me why you are calling,” please say “Help Desk” for help with a my Social Security account.

I called into the Help Desk and, after verifying my identity, discovered that if you have a credit freeze at even one of the three credit bureaus then you cannot set up your my Social Security account login online. Naturally, I locked down my credit as soon as I could so that was of course my problem.

If you cannot create an account online, then you need to walk in to your local Social Security office (no appointment necessary) and show them a photo ID. They can then get you a special activation code to finish setting up your account.

After acquiring the activation code, you can navigate to the SSA login screen again only this time click “Enter Activation Code” under the “Finish Setting up Your Account” heading.

You still have to enter your personal information online, but after you do, you will enter your activation code to verifying your identity instead of taking a quiz of credit information.

You can use the SSA Office Locator online here to find the address and hours of operation of your nearest office. In my experience and unlike other government agencies, their waiting rooms are largely empty and their wait times are counted in minutes rather than hours.

Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

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Chief Operating Officer, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 700 financial articles. Her most popular post is "The Complete Guide to Your Washing Machine" while one of her favorites is "Funding a 3-Year-Old’s Roth IRA."