There’s a small piece of good news for a change. If you’re applying for a U.S. work permit and don’t yet have a Social Security number or SSN, you can now apply for both on the same form in many cases. For example, a person applying for “Adjustment of Status” from a temporary status (student, visitor, other) to permanent residence (green card) can apply for a work permit at the same time. Until now, once you received the work permit or EAD you had to visit your local Social Security office to get an SSN which is required to work in the U.S.
Now you can apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and SSN on the same I-765 application by answering a few more questions. The government says you should receive your SS card within two weeks of receiving your EAD.
Note that green card holders DO NOT need to apply for separate EADs. The green card or I-551 shows that a person is authorized to legally work in the U.S.