Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Intricacies" of The United States Social Security Card Application

For some employment related things I realized I needed my social security card today. After searching high and low, I still couldn't find it. I think maybe I lost it back in 2006 when I had my wallet stolen (Okay, okay... I was in Europe and still excited about the whole "legal drinking(!!!!)" [at 20(!!!)] thing. I'd been drinking with friends all night and was stupidly carrying a clutch, rather than a bag with handles or a strap. Knowing me, I believe it was technically lost. But it was "stolen" for insurance purposes).

A little Google-action lead me to the government's social security site. I learned that when you need to obtain a United States Social Security Card, either new or a replacement, you have to fill out an ss-5 form and bring it to your local Social Security Card Center for processing. Okay, no problem... Just a few boring forms, maybe a small fee, and I'd have a fresh new card.

... Little did I know the five-page ss-5 form for a new card would be a delight as it seems to be

a) an extension of the U.S. Citizenship test.
b) A Darwinian experiment.
c) A fear-inducing form for any forgetful scatterbrain.

Let me elaborate...

First of all, like many forms, there are lots of "technical" instructions in the beginning. You have to write in blue or black ink, print on regular sized (or A4) white paper, etc. After you fill out the form you either have to bring it or send it in to your local SS office. If you are aged 12 or older and have never been assigned a number, you must apply in person. That's so social security workers can make sure you pass the the visual sketch-test (meaning you don't look like a sketchball).

One scary thing (the fear-inducing (c)) is that the form clearly states that Public Law 108-458 imposes limits on the number of replacement social security cards you may receive at 3 per year and 10 per lifetime. Yikes!! What if you lose your card more than ten times?!?! Is that it? You get deported or something?? Sorry, you can't be a citizen anymore. You can't take a new job. You probably can't get married. On that note, what if you get remarried (God forbid) more than 10 times and need to keep changing your name. Hmm...

Lastly, it's really weird because there is a major trick question on the application. The applicant's name is stated in section 1. The applicant's date of birth is stated in section 6. SECTION 13 (tricky 13!!) asks: 'Enter any different date of birth if used on an earlier application for a card.'

HUH!? It seems like filling out this question is just asking to either get your recently granted U.S. Citizenship yanked away or be forever scowled upon by the U.S. Government for likely being a dumb, resource-sucking citizen for the rest of your life. What other birth date would someone have used? I hate how birthdays change every so often. It's like you immune system, which changes every 7 years or so... So does your birthday. ?????

What a cruel trick.

Also, interestingly enough, the SS office cannot accept birth certificates as proof of identity. You have to have a driver's license or passport.

Oh well. Hopefully I'll get a new card. I'm going tomorrow.

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