General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Should Social Security Cards be a photo ID?

Asked by JLeslie (47232 points ) May 30th, 2010

Sounds like a reasonable idea to me. I just heard it suggested on Meet The Press during an immigration discussion and the Arizona law.

What are the negatives and the positives?

Personally, I never carry my SS card, it is never in my wallet, I don’t even use it when I get a job. Identity theft has always caused me to never have it on me. Previously, I was always in favor of a federal ID though, whether it be a federal age of majority or federal drivers license. But, I can see that with concerns for illegal immigration a photo social security card might make sense.

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36 Answers

gtreyger's avatar

@JLeslie Why are you in favor of a Federal lD?

john65pennington's avatar

This a great idea, but what about the cost involved and how can the Feds be absolutely sure that you are who you say you are. the illegals have used so many fraud identification papers, to obtain a Tennessee Drivers License, that we do not know who they are, even with a photo attached to a drivers license. they swap papers around to each other and our state DL situation is a mess. when we stop a person on a traffic violation, we have no clue if the persons photo on his DL is the same as the name posted. this will also happen when attaching a photo to Soc. Security cards, except on a much larger scale.

cheebdragon's avatar

Since we get our cards when we are born, would we have to start then? Because waiting until your older to get one would still leave our kids at risk. But if we started from birth, can you imagine having to update the photo every damn year though? No thanks

deadleaf's avatar

I think adding a photo to your social is a neat idea. I don’t think though that having a “federal identification” will be necessary. I do think that Americans should get passports as a secondary ID or even a primary!

JLeslie's avatar

@gtreyger I should clarify that I was always in favor of a federal drivers license, because I think it is ridiculous that when I move from state to state I have to get a new one. It had nothing to do with immigration at all. Generally I am more federally oriented than state oriented on things like this. Thank you for asking.

marinelife's avatar

I am not in favor of federal identity cards.

JLeslie's avatar

@cheebdragon Why do you have to update it every year?

deadleaf's avatar

@cheebdragon I was thinking the same thing, but I imagine it would only apply for people of age. Same as your DL.

deadleaf's avatar

@JLeslie Now that I think about it, a Federal ID as opposed to a State ID would be better. =/

JLeslie's avatar

@deadleaf I am always stunned that people don’t have passports. Passports do not help people who are green cards or working visas. But, then they have green cards for ID I guess. Does it cost money to get a SS card? I don’t even know.

JLeslie's avatar

@deadleaf I think Social Security numbers are assigned when you are born now, or close to it. I think it would be updated like a passport. Every 5 years when you are under 18, and every 10 when you are over.

MissA's avatar

I would prefer to go incognito in life…but, that’s just me.

I realize that because the world is the way it is, all sorts of monitoring must go on. So, put our fingerprint on our DL. Update it every time we must renew. Keep the photo and have something on the card readable only by the government…some kind of invisible ink…only viewable with a high tech light or machine. Of course even that will need to be updated because it’s difficult to outsmart the criminal mind.

MissAnthrope's avatar

NO. No, no, no, a thousand times no. Social security numbers were never intended to be ID of any sort and I really hate that this is what they have become.

cheebdragon's avatar

It would have to be started at birth because it would be the only way to associate an age with the number, apparently we don’t have that now

ragingloli's avatar

Our ID cards have photos. I never leave the house without it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Look, the problem of “illegal immigration” isn’t the immigrants. The United States has had relatively open immigration policies (with some notable exceptions, such as severe restrictions on Eastern and Southern Europeans approximately 100 years ago) for most of its existence. It had to, in order to grow and prosper. (Unfortunately, one of those methods was an enforced and involuntary “immigration” known as slavery.)

But the problem now is not “those people coming to this country illegally to work”. It’s a problem of our welfare society and the way we give away to “beneficiaries” more than has been earned and paid on the accounts (as if those accounts actually existed) to support the payments.

“Illegal immigrants” are just an easy target, especially since they have no official representation—they can’t vote here. Most immigrants to this country, whether legal or “illegal”, actually raise the standard of living of all of us by working and contributing their labor (which is valuable) for money (which has no intrinsic value) and helping to prop up the entire monetary system that supports all of us.

But if you’re a marginal “legal” worker in the US and an “illegal” takes your job for less money (because he has to fly “under the radar” and accept a worse deal than you) it doesn’t help you. So naturally you raise a fuss about that. And you do have representation, and your representatives puff and proclaim loudly about how bad it is that these “illegals” are taking your jobs. (Your representatives haven’t actually had to do anything yet other than puff and proclaim.)

Truly, our “immigration” from neighboring countries should be as open as it is between the states themselves—but we really should do something to shut off the spigot of “government benefits” that will ruin all of us far sooner than “immigration” ever would.

But to respond directly to the Q: Your Social Security card, if you read it, specifically declaims that it is in any way an “identification document”. So to answer: no, it shouldn’t have a photo on it; there would be no purpose.

Seek's avatar

The last time I renewed my driver’s license, I did it through the mail. Before that, they didn’t require me to take a new photo when I changed my last name at my wedding.

The picture on my current DL is me, when I was 17. It looks nothing like 25 year old me. How in the world does a poorly-lit face shot that could be the gods know how old contribute to any sort of identity protection? Literally any 16 year old girl with long blonde hair looks more like my DL picture than I do (especially since I now wear glasses instead of contacts and have shorter red hair).

casheroo's avatar

I send a picture every year into a DARE child safety program http://www.dare.com/Child_Safety_programs.asp It’s really not that much of a bother to send a photo in.

I don’t think we really need photo id’s for social security cards though.

HungryGuy's avatar

In my humble opinion, people should be as free to move, live, and find employment between nations as they do between states.

JLeslie's avatar

@HungryGuy That is a nice ideal. I think a lot of jellies would like it to work that way also, a la Gene Roddenberry. But, I would guess even if there were no borders we would still need ID’s.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@JLeslie you’ve put your finger on part of it.

We do need identification between and among ourselves. That is, “private ID”. You need to know when you hire me, for example, that I am the person I represent myself to be, education-, quaification- and experience-wise. You don’t want to hire a doctor for your hospital, for example, without knowing that he really is a doctor and has the experience and qualification that he represents.

On a daily basis, if I’m going to accept a check from you, then I want to know a little bit about you, where you live and something else that I can use for recourse if the check bounces. So you need identification if you plan to cash a check. (I guess people still do that, don’t they?)

Government security ‘experts’ often claim that we need ID for boarding airplanes, for example. But that’s a myth. Look at who has been allowed to board airplanes—even when warnings were delivered by their own family members to “watch out for this one!” ... and look at who has been prevented from boarding planes: Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam). So ID for government purposes is a hollow joke now.

Like everything else government does, though, they claim that if they do it “bigger” then it will be “better”. Like welfare and Social Security, I suppose. Like we’ll find out soon on health care.

kheredia's avatar

Great! One more thing to worry about! How people like to complicate their lives is beyond me. I never carry my SS card, I don’t even remember the last time I looked at it. Putting a picture on it is pointless. It’s just one more expense to worry about.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I don’t understand what the point of having your picture on your social security card or having a federal ID would be? Anyone care to elaborate for me?

I really don’t see how it would make a difference in a positive way.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I dont think you should have a picture on it because wht if somone steals your social security card number or finds the card with the picture on it? I mean really, theve already got your’re card number, why would you want a criminal to know also what you look like? another thing, some people dont even carry it with them so when you put your picture on it, its just having another stupid thing to worry about.

LeotCol's avatar

I don’t see any good reason not to have a picture on it.

It is supposed to be identification, the best way to identify that person is a picture. It just makes sense to me.
Even if it says it is not meant to be an ID that doesn’t make a difference…its used to identify a person…

@astrix24 I don’t think a criminal really cares what the person looks like, they just want the number. Its not like they’re going to come get your social security number again.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I guess your right a criminal really wouldnt care. But still, they can look for that person and hunt them down and maybe kill them so that the S.S. card holder cant say anything and report them, even though the criminal would be arrested and thrown in jail. Duh.

LeotCol's avatar

@astrix24 I fear that would lead to more loose ends than less. Then they’d have even more problems that before. And not all criminals are murderers.

anartist's avatar

Yes and maybe even other protections, perhaps less than a passport but more than credit cards.

JLeslie's avatar

Interesting how many different thoughts and opinions there are on the subject. Thank you all for the comments so far. I am not 100% decided about how I think on the topic. I kind of come down on the side of not making our social security card something to carry with us all of the time as ID. Since our SS number is linked to so many critical things, I still don’t like the idea of carrying it with me (as I mentioned at the top I never carry my SS card, not even when I need ID to start a job, I use my passport).

I do like the ID of a federal card though. One card. Not a federal card and a state drivers license, and something else. I would want it to simplify things, not make things more copmplicated or more burdensome. If we can incorporate our passport that would be awesome. I guess eventually passports will be all electronic? Maybe the card has our eligibility to work, not eligible, working visa, green card, citizen, etc., and serves as a drivers license, and whatever else might be pertinent. I can’t imagine with the direction the world is movig in technologically that all of this information might eventually get all coordinated. For now, at least in the US., agencies seem to not “talk” to each other. Kind of like the left does not now what the right is doing.

@CyanoticWasp Supposedly there are people who are stopped from flying who are on the no fly list, but I do see your point. Goodness knows we all get on buses and trains every day without any real ID check of any sort. I don’t mind them doing some basic checks for metal items before boarding the plane though. I guess if someone did blow up a plane, God forbid, if we can figure out who they are we can connect some dots. Also, for people who have loved ones flying, if something bad happens, I guess we want to know they were or were not on the plane. But, I guess for the most part as long as they checked in that would be covered? I have a hard time wrapping my head around not checking ID at the airport.

@RedPowerLady The reason I like the federal ID over state ID, is because I feel as a citizen or legal resident of the US, and having the ability to drive in any state, once I have a drivers license, it would be nice if when I moved to a new state, I don’t have to go through getting my drivers license again. It’s a nuisance. I guess it is revenue for the state, so fine I’ll send my check, but don’t make me got to the DMV if I just had my eyes checked two years ago in FL.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The last time my husband renewed his drivers license in FL he did it on the phone. He was in NY at Laguardia airport and they said he could not use his license as ID, becaus eit was expired. He had not realized. Luckily he had his passport with him. He called me to tell me the story. Here’s the thing, he needed to be able to drive when he got home. So, I gave him the number to DMV, and when he called they told him how to do it over the phone. I think it cost a couple extra bucks? Not sure it was so long ago.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@JLeslie I love it. Both sides of that story. His ID was no longer valid… because his license to drive had expired? As if that made him someone else or invalidated his identity.

And the state that issues the license will renew it over the phone. And people wonder why I have absolutely no faith in government. Thanks for sharing that.

JLeslie's avatar

@CyanoticWasp We couldn’t believe it; how easy it was. What I think is crazy is that even if it is an expired ID, if it is him in the picture, and it was issued originally by a state agency, why can’t it still count as valid ID? I can think up some reasons why, but really it is sort of funny. Good we generally travel with our passports, even domestic travel. Growing up I always had picture ID. My father was military, so I had my military ID and later my drivers license. My mother told me never to leave the house without some sort of ID. I don’t always have my license, but I try to have my name and a contact # on me.

Nullo's avatar

I think that my Social Security card gets far too much exposure as it is.

I also don’t like the idea of a federal ID card.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo What is the real difference between having a federal ID and a state ID?

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie
None, I imagine, on the citizen side of things (though AFAIK we are not required to have a state ID, at least not in Missouri). But there is a difference in who’s on the other end of your driver’s license: states often have different ideas than the federal government about things.

And lately I’ve been getting the feeling that the federal government is scrabbling for all the power that it can get. Preferring, as I do, smaller government (and because I can be quite contrary), the last thing I’d want is to give it yet another micromanagement tool.

Furthermore, I realized relatively recently that one can think of the States as individual countries united under a federal government (in order to simplify things like interstate relations, trade, warfare, and foreign policy), rather than as administrative subdivisions of a single super-State. I decided that I liked that perspective more than the other one. Idealistic conservationist that I am, I dislike attempts to blur those lines.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo Individual states make me more nervous than our federal government, depending on the state, even though I too have a little bit of a fear of big brother. Since I live in TN right now, I prefer federal law to the crazy laws they try to get through here, which I bet if brought to the supreme court would be deemed unconstitutional. The south seems to talk about states rights and less government, but they keep wanting to make more laws inhibiting people’s individual freedoms. It makes no sense to me.

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