I need to see a doctor, to get ID. Difficulty: I'm broke
July 15, 2018 8:37 PM   Subscribe

I have to get a social security card, to get a state ID. The nice person at the Social Security office told me that I need only get a piece of paperwork from some medical office showing that I'd had some medical attention- and I had, recently- but nobody at the hospital's medical records office would sign anything, for what sounded like good reasons.

(I suspect they're paranoid about giving people things, including signatures, if they can't prove they're themselves. However, the person at SS seemed to think it was doable.)

As far as I can tell, that is my only way to get a social security card.

So, as far as I can tell I have options. I can show up in other ER's until I find someone willing to sign something (the person at the office said the document had to have the date, and my name on it.)

Or I could try to find a free clinic of some sort, and maybe that would work?

I'm reluctant to do any of this, because, I don't want to waste a doctor's time or anything. I'm also reluctant to go to clinics at all, because the time I tried that before they wanted $200 in cash. (I understand that was because I'm from out of state, but still.) Help?
posted by hap_hazard to Law & Government (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't have a birth certificate?

Did you get any kind of paperwork when you were at the doctor recently?
posted by latkes at 8:59 PM on July 15, 2018

If any medical office will do, can you hit up a drugstore clinic for, like, a low-cost A1c test? Or a sliding-scale-driven consult at Planned Parenthood?
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:06 PM on July 15, 2018

Response by poster: I have a birth certificate, but that's apparently not enough. I did get paperwork for the hospital visit, but it wasn't signed.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2018

Also, can you clarify if you're replacing a lost card, or getting a new card? And maybe in which state you're applying for the driver's license? For instance, in California, you only need to provide your social security number, not produce the card, for a non-commercial license, along with current proof of residency.

[Sorry, not driver's license, for your state ID card.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:11 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

The list of documents that the Social Security Administration will accept for proving identity is here, and I see that medical documents are one of them. They also will accept any of the following as a secondary document (if you don't have a driver's license, state ID, or passport):

* U.S. Diplomatic Passport
* U.S. Official Passport
* U.S. military identification card for active duty member, retiree, national guard, or dependent
* Certificate of Naturalization
* Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
* U.S. Indian Tribal card approved by the RO as an acceptable identity document
* U.S. government employee identification card (Form OF-55, U.S. Government Identification, or other document issued by the employing agency)
* Non-government employee identity card/badge card showing the applicant’s name and either a photograph or the applicant’s DOB
* Marriage document showing the applicant’s name, and either the applicant’s DOB or age (see RM 10210.410 and RM 10210.420)
* Certified copy of medical record (clinic, doctor, or hospital) or letter providing extract data from the medical record showing the applicant’s name and the applicant’s DOB or age (for certification by custodian see GN 00301.030A.3.)
* Health insurance or U.S. Medicaid card showing, the applicant’s name and: a photograph, or age or DOB (card must be current).
* School identity card or certified school record or transcript (for current school year) showing, the applicant’s name and either a photograph of the applicant or the applicant’s DOB).
* Life insurance policy for the person showing his or her age or DOB

Do you have any of those? If you don't, what documentation do you have of any sort to prove your identity other than your birth certificate? Maybe an expired state id?
posted by crazy with stars at 9:18 PM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Free and Income-based Clinics in NOLA

One of these clinics could give you what you need.

Also, is there a particular reason they said you need medical paperwork? No one I know has needed this for a SS card.
posted by Everydayville at 9:20 PM on July 15, 2018

Response by poster: Everydayville, crazy with stars- it's because I don't have any of the rest of that stuff. I have a photo in my phone of an out of state ID (the one I lost to kind of start this process) but that's expired. And an expired passport. And that's about it.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:31 PM on July 15, 2018

I don't think ERs are the way to go here: they're busy, and hospitals are a giant engine for triage and bureaucracy, not providing certified medical records. Honestly, this sounds like a bit of a wild goose chase on the basis of what seems like incomplete information from the Social Security office; if you have a recent employee ID, or health insurance card, or a school ID or transcript from the past year (since we're in between school years), those will probably better bets.

But if you need to go to the hospital, your first step is to figure out who to ask. It's not going to be the ER. It's likely to be the Medical Records office; you're entitled to ask for copies of your own medical records, and that's probably where they'll be kept, but you could drop by the Information desk to chat with folks there to be sure.

The second step is to make sure you're asking for the right thing, e.g. a certified copy of your medical records, as crazy with stars mentions above. If you've been asking the, I dunno, ER for a non-specific piece of paper attesting that you're you, that doesn't fit into any of the categories of things-the-ER-does. They may not know what you're talking about, and since you're competing for time with gunshot wound victims, the ER staff are probably just trying to get rid of you rather than sussing out what you really need. Which makes sense, given the ER's priorities. Instead, go straight to the heart of the bureaucracy, and ask the people who actually handle these things.
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Can you renew your out of State ID, then use that to get an in-State ID?
posted by monotreme at 9:44 PM on July 15, 2018

Can you renew the passport and then use that as ID?if it was issued less than 15 years a go, you should be able to renew it without any further ID. You will need to get passport photos made, though. Once you have that, you can use it to get the Social Security card. (Or maybe you will be able to just use the passport when getting the state ID at the point.)
posted by jimw at 9:48 PM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: You'd think so, but with it being expired, it looks like I'd have to go over to TX, which I'd like to avoid if possible.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:52 PM on July 15, 2018

It's not uncommon for medical offices to be willing to sign a note verifying that you were there for employment reasons. I wonder if Social Security would accept that for this purpose. Telling the hospital you need them to sign something verifying your identity is going to be a problem, because that's not what they do, but "my boss needs a signed letter verifying I was here on this date" may be something they're set up to provide.

Alternatively, what about renewing your expired passport? You'll have to give it up for a while with your application, which could be scary if that's your only ID, but you shouldn't need any additional documents to renew it (besides filling out the form and a photo). Unless it's more than 15 years old, you can drop everything in the mail, and just get a new passport back. Then you'll have a valid passport, which should be accepted pretty much everywhere, including by Social Security. The passport fee isn't cheap, but it seems like it would solve a lot of problems at once.
posted by zachlipton at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are in Louisiana, from Louisiana's Dept. of Public Safety Office of Motor Vehicles Real ID requirements:

Commonly used Social Security documents are:
• A Social Security card (a medicare card cannot be accepted in
place of a Social Security card)
• A W-2*
• A SSA-1099 form or a non-SSA-1099 form*
• A pay stub with the applicant’s name and SSN on it*
*Full or partial Social Security Number

(Separate from the social security number issue, another acceptable secondary document toward meeting their quota is a voter ID card.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:07 PM on July 15, 2018

Response by poster: For the ID issue, well, I've been working for Postmates, so I have none of the paperwork you'd expect to have with employment. I can ask them I guess...

My passport is a little too old to renew that way alas.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:19 PM on July 15, 2018

That says "certified copy." A mere note isn't going to do it. Has to have signature, stamp, or seal from custodian with statement attesting to accuracy of copy.

Are you, in fact, still in Louisiana? Have you literally never held a job in which you paid into Social Security? Because otherwise you can just download your SSA-1099 from the SSA online and use that. I am puzzled as to why the SSA didn't tell you this.

Additionally, if you only want a non-REAL ID state ID (i.e., not a driver's license), in LA you can use many documents as your secondary documents along with your birth certificate as primary: https://expresslane.dps.louisiana.gov/cdlforms/identification%20requirements.pdf

(I don't know what your life circumstances have been such that your papers are such a mess, but I strongly recommend you get and keep them all in order ASAP. This is not a good time in U.S. history not to have documents.)
posted by praemunire at 11:51 PM on July 15, 2018

It might be worth it to contact a Social Worker at the hospital you were seen at; they may be able to get this processed.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:52 PM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Could the medical records come from a therapist or other behavioral health provider, if that's an easier route?
posted by XMLicious at 3:53 AM on July 16, 2018

Are there any other documents you could use instead to prove your identity and get a new state ID? Ages ago I lost my wallet and most of my forms of ID. One of the items I did use to prove my identity to get a new license was my high school yearbook. They had a big list and point system of different items that you could use as ID. This likely varies by state.
posted by emd3737 at 4:05 AM on July 16, 2018

Call the SSA national help line(s). "Please contact your local field office or call 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 for assistance."
posted by Carol Anne at 7:25 AM on July 16, 2018

Best answer: This is something I've done as a medical social worker in a large metro hospital , but not in your state. Don't use the office staff, reception or medical records the best bet is the Social Work office. Nurses and doctors will pretty much ignore this request.

My hospital coworkers would be unlikely to know that this is something I do, as it doesn't happen often and isn't on the radar of things medical social workers help with... But it actually is.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:47 AM on July 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

Some things that would affect my ability to complete this request for you at where I work1) you would need to have been seen more than once, if you showed up at the hospital for the first time with no docs and told me your story, I'd have no idea who you were, just who you claimed to be that day. This also goes for registering a couple times and walking out in a close timeframe, so no showing up once and then two weeks later THEN asking for me either. Sorry!

2) please do not register in your local ER soley for a social need like this.

One of the reasons they suggest this is that hospitals and doctors offices keep copies of your ID on file. So, somewhere where you presented your ID in the past would be the most useful.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:57 AM on July 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: AlexiaSky, that's a good idea, although I didn't have ID when I went there. I've got an email in to what I hope is the right person.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2018

Here in IL it's suggested to use school transcripts from your public school district. It I'd unclear to me if this is a state policy or national. The public
school transcripts plus birth certificate will get a social security card to get an ID.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:11 AM on July 16, 2018

Sorry to post like 10 times, but trying not to abuse the edit function. Social workers who deal with homelessness regularly will have more experience in doing this than most people. A homeless shelter or case management agency may be really useful for local guidance .
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Agree with the social worker angles... I was homeless with only an expired out of state ID when the PoPo said to get ID and the homeless shelter made that work somehow... (maybe just because the PoPo had already run and identified me as me... or they could/would get a copy of my birth certificate or something.)
posted by zengargoyle at 1:35 PM on July 16, 2018

Response by poster: Ok, I've got that email sent. Tomorrow I register to vote, tonight probably I'll ask Postmates about getting a 1099. I haven't been working for them for long, but here's hoping. Calling the SS helpline- it might help, so thanks.

The thing about going to clinics- the first one on the list is the one where they asked me for $. And as far as I can tell, the totally free clinics are for homeless people, which I am technically not, just yet. I feel weird about lying about that although like I say it's a pretty near thing.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:28 PM on July 16, 2018

Response by poster: Whew! I went in the hospital, and asked to talk to a social worker, and they were all like "I don't know if they see any body who's not a current patient," but finally a social worker came.

And was great, if totally skeptical, but signed the non-certified thing and, it totally worked, I got my social security card! (I'm going to go back in, and thank her in person- she didn't have to do any thing, but did- and I want to tell her it's possible.) I'll have to wait for the card to come in the mail (along with my voter registration, and the email for my 1099) but then I'm set.

I want to thank all of y'all for helping me! I want to mark every answer as best- but I dislike how that makes threads look- but know they're appreciated.
posted by hap_hazard at 3:44 PM on July 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

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