Social Security Cards
February 1, 2004 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Why aren't you supposed to laminate your social security card?
posted by drezdn to Law & Government (15 answers total)
As far as I know, it's because the card is government property, not something that belongs to you. Having said that, I know a guy who has a metal SS card, apparently something that is (or was?) issued optionally.
posted by majick at 10:00 PM on February 1, 2004

Social Security cards use a paper that has material that changes color when it ages, using air. Laminating S.S. cards keeps that air from permeating the chemicals, making it easier to forge.
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:15 PM on February 1, 2004

I remember that comic books used to have ads for the metal SS cards. I think I even sent away for one, but then lost it and my entire wallet as a kid. They aren't official SS cards:

"Some private firms sell metal or plastic Social Security cards or offer them free as a 'come on' for other business offers. Although these cards are not illegal, only a Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration is the official verification of a person's Social Security number." -SSA Publication No. 05-10002
posted by gluechunk at 11:28 PM on February 1, 2004

I had a metal one as a kid. I think it rusted away.
posted by justgary at 11:34 PM on February 1, 2004

My dad laminated mine when I got mine when I was a kid. I haven't had an issue when getting jobs yet. But if I do, I'm going to move back in with him.
posted by birdherder at 12:12 AM on February 2, 2004

Even though the SSA-issued card is a verification of your SSN, the card itself is not a valid form of identification, and it says so clearly on the card. This was in response to early fears of the SSN becoming a de facto national identification system (which, of course, it did anyway).
posted by briank at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2004

I haven't actually needed my SS card for at least 15 years (I'm 30). What are the most common uses of it?
posted by o2b at 10:14 AM on February 2, 2004

I laminated mine (at my father's suggestion) when I was 12 or so. I still have it too. But it is a rare thing for me to meet other who even have a card. They simply memorized the number.

On the rare occasion I am asked to produce it, it is usually so the receiver can photocopy it for their records.
posted by terrapin at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2004

o2b, I've always needed to show one on the day I started a job whether in the U.S. or Canada.
posted by substrate at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2004

Proof-of-ID, o2b. Jobs like to see it, and banks consider it a half-identification (that is, not as strong as a driver's license or a passport since it has no photo).
posted by werty at 12:04 PM on February 2, 2004

I haven't actually needed my SS card for at least 15 years (I'm 30). What are the most common uses of it?

Almost every job I've taken over the last 10 years has required a social security card (or passport). The last credit union I opened an account with required one also, even though I worked for the company and had their I.D.

Lastly, its recommended you don't carry your SS card with you.
posted by justgary at 12:29 PM on February 2, 2004

I lost my SS card when I was just a kid and never got a new one until I was 29 and only then because the woman at a temp agency where I was applying for work told me that in our new post-9/11 society, I would be jailed as a terrorist without one. Before that I always used my driver's license and a photo copy of my birth certificate (my mother won't give me the original because I was born in an USAFB overseas and she's afraid I'll lose it).

It turned out to be surprisingly easy to get a new card, although the woman at the window did give me a hard time about the out-of-country birth for some reason (I'm going to guess dumbness) so I figure I will not laminate my card, as ordered, and just get a new one if this one wears out.
posted by jennyb at 1:04 PM on February 2, 2004

My parents applied for my card and my brother's card (4 years younger) at the same time and he has the number one digit under mine. I did not know that one was required to have a SS number though. I've used my number countless times in my life as a distinguishing number -- and I will likely never forget it as a result. Not that anyone would want to, but why can't you pay your taxes without the expectation that you ever get it back. I know the IRS uses the number as ID as well so I guess it is the law to have a number, is it then? That kind of thing generally does not bother me but I find it to be a little creepy right now.
posted by Dick Paris at 5:02 PM on February 2, 2004

I also got hassled by SS about being born overseas. I didn't have my Department of State birth certificate when I went to change my name after I got married. Despite the fact that I had produced it when I applied for the card in the first place, and I could prove I was the person attached to that SSN. Somehow, in the intervening 18 years, I lost my US citizenship? I was born on an Army post to two American parents-- how much more American could I get? They wouldn't let me change my name without it, which means I have to send off $30 to the Department of State to get a copy. Thirty freakin' dollars? What the hell are they printing these copies on that they cost thirty freakin' dollars?
posted by Shoeburyness at 7:59 PM on February 2, 2004

Just my experience, my SS card was declined by an employer for job purposes because it was laminated. I had to bring in my passport the next day. I have been using my passport ever since, since it fulfills the full I-9 requirement, no other ID required.
posted by addyct at 1:28 AM on February 3, 2004

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