I need a new driver's license, and not to throw a public tantrum
July 18, 2011 1:12 PM   Subscribe

How can I navigate this RMV/Social Security office debacle and get a new driver's license?

Last summer, I tried to get a new driver's license to reflect my new state of residence (MA). I went to the RMV with my still valid NY license, birth certificate, Social Security card, and current passport. When they ran my social security #, whatever system they use to validate the SSN returned an "invalid birthdate" response. They gave me a piece of paper showing the message and sent me to the social security office to sort it out. There they insisted that everything was fine and sent me back to the RMV. I went back to the RMV and tried again and got another invalid birthdate message, and then they sort of yelled at me and said that the problem lay with the SS office.

I went back to the SS office the next day and tried again, and they told me the same thing. "Everything is fine on our end, it must be a problem at the RMV." The woman there even showed me my record on her monitor, which showed my correct SSN, correct birthdate, everything a-ok. When I looked close to tears and told her that the RMV kept saying the problem was with the social security office, she suggested I try a different RMV office. (?!)

Now, when I had to get a new Social Security card about 5 years ago, I DID discover an error in my birthdate (they had it as a month earlier, for some reason), but they fixed it when I showed them my birth certificate and I went on to get a new license with no problems.

So I put the task off for another year, but now my current license is actually going to expire in September, so I have to deal.

Can you help me figure out who I should be yelling at? It seems like the problem somehow exists in the system they use to validate SSNs, but neither office is helpful, and they just keep telling me "not our problem" and I end up scurrying back and forth and crying in frustration. Has anyone ever had this happen? Is there any chance that going to a different RMV office would help? I assume they use the same system, so I don't know why it would make a difference.
posted by little cow make small moo to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Call the MA RMV Omsbudsman's office at 617-973-7777. The woman I spoke to there is named Julia. There's also Klark Jessen from MA DoT [(617) 973-7019], but I'd try Julia first. Alternately, and this is weird, I've had decent luck with the MA DOT Twitter account but that was a year ago, not sure if that will be working.

When you call I'd be very clear and succinct

- I am trying to get a license here
- when the RMV runs my SSN they get an invalid birthday response and said go to the soc sec office
- I went there and they say the problem is with you
- how do I move forward from this?

They may be able to arrange a three way call when you're at the RMV office or find some other way to move past this "the computer says no" bottleneck. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 1:32 PM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, jessamyn, I will definitely try that!

Here is a follow-up question: Would it help my cause to go try again first, so I am not calling all "hey I tried this like a year ago and then gave up" and instead have evidence of a recent failure to go on?
posted by little cow make small moo at 2:18 PM on July 18, 2011


If it were me, I'd go to the MA RMV one more time and have something recent to talk about so it looks like you're trying to be affirmative about it and not just "This suuuuucks!" I'm sure they deal with a ton of people who have bad coping skills who also feel that he system is out to get them. You seem to have uncovered an actual bug and surely everyone would like that to be fixed so here you are trying to help them fix it [is my take on that].

I had a weird problem with them last year where my dad had gone on a vacation and his license had expired and so his insurance lapsed and I was trying to get it taken care of, even provisionally, so that he could drive his car when he got home. They were very helpful getting it taken care of, even though the problem we had was caused by us originally.

So I'd just outline

- this is what I am trying to do
- this is what is happening
- this is where I get caught in an endless loop
- what can I do?
- thank you so much!

The less you get grumpy with them, the better chance you have of getting something handled. They might toss it back to you and say "Get the soc sec people to fill out this idiot piece of paper" but at least then you know what needs to happen and there's a way to solve the problem.
posted by jessamyn at 2:29 PM on July 18, 2011


Well! In conclusion, I finally sucked it up and went over to the RMV today (the other office that the SS office person suggested) and they gave me a license with no trouble and it was fine. ANTICLIMACTIC!
I was all armed and ready with the ombudsman number and a whole plan and many pieces of paper, but I am glad that I didn't have to use them. I really have no idea why it would work at one office and not another, but I am going to stop thinking about it now. And forever.
posted by little cow make small moo at 9:03 AM on August 4, 2011


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