Your Social Security Card Is Still Printed On Paper For A Very Good Reason

October 12, 2018

ID 61814688 © Kentannenbaum |

It is interesting that your entire identity revolves around your social security number. A nine digit number, unique to you, and required for so many things in the United States like a driver's license, obtaining a mortgage, getting a job, enrolling in school and even filing your taxes!  But unlike your bank cards and driver's license, which are made of more durable plastic, your social security card is made of delicate paper.  In a "King of the Mountain" lineup, your social security card is more powerful than you debit card, driver's license and passport! Considering you something so important and supposed to last your entire life, it would make better sense to print your social security card on plastic or at least laminate it for protection, right?  However the Social Security Administration forbids you from placing your card in permanent plastic.  What gives?  There is a very simple reason that since its creation in 1936, your social security number has been issued on paper (before 1983 it was cardboard); to prevent counterfeiting and deter you from carrying it around. While the card might not appear to be more sophisticated, such as your driver’s license, one of the main reasons why the paper is used is because like stated, you’re actually not supposed to be carrying it around. For example, with your driver’s license, there’s a date of birth, a picture, an address and defining features that make it card for someone to impersonate you. With your social security card, there is no way of physically identifying you. No birthday, hair color, eyes color, etc. Someone can easily use the card and pretend it’s you and steal your identity. As with our paper money, your social security card has simple, yet effective, security features. The blue colored marbled background tint is erasable, making any changes to the very obvious. Raised letter print that can be felt if you touch them is notoriously hard to replicate. So, laminating the card would indeed interfere with detecting these and other unpublicized security measures. It is somewhat ironic that in a world that seems to be moving away from paper that the most important documents in life, like your birth certificate and social security card, still reply on centuries old paper.


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