Although laminating your Social Security card isn’t illegal, it also isn’t a good idea.
Your Social Security card is an important document you must keep safe for your lifetime. But unlike other important documents, such as your driver’s license, credit card, passport, and Medicare card, it’s simply a piece of paper that’s not durable or sturdy. Laminating it can provide extra protection from damage, but is that allowed by the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
Read on to learn more about how to protect your Social Security card from damage and what to do if you need to get a new card.
How to protect your Social Security card
According to the SSA, you should not laminate your Social Security card. While it seems like it would offer greater protection against tears, stains, and other damage, lamination actually prevents detection of special security features on the card. These include the anti-copy pattern on the card and banknote paper it’s produced on.
A laminated card also may not be accepted as an original document when using it for identification purposes. For example, when you start a new job, your new employer may ask for your Social Security card for identity verification. If your card is laminated, your employer may not accept it as a valid form of identification. To avoid others questioning the authenticity of your card, and even your identity, you should not laminate your card.
How can you keep your Social Security card safe?
Instead of laminating your card, there are other ways to protect it:
- Keep your card in a safe place at home, like a fireproof safe or filing system.
- Don’t carry your card around with you unless you need it for something specific. Carrying your card in your purse or wallet also makes it easier to lose or have stolen, which could lead to identity theft.
- Use a plastic sleeve (like a baseball card sleeve) or other removable material, as long as it doesn’t damage the card. The card can easily be removed and verified, and the sleeve doesn’t interfere with the security features.
It’s important to note that laminating your card is not illegal, so if you’ve already laminated it, you won’t face any criminal penalties or fines. It’s just strongly recommended that you don’t laminate the card.
How to get a new Social Security card
You can actually get three replacement Social Security cards per year, and 10 replacement cards in a lifetime. If you lose or damage your Social Security card and want a new one, you’re able to request one online if:
- You are a U.S. citizen over the age of 18
- You have a U.S. mailing address
- You’re not requesting a name change, or any other change to your card
- You have a driver’s license (or state-issued ID card) from one of the participating states or District of Columbia
To request a new card, log into your my Social Security account and select “Replace your Social Security Card.” Answer the questions to confirm that you’re eligible, and enter the requested information such as name, Social Security number (SSN), date of birth, address, and state driver’s license/ID information.
If you’re not eligible to apply for a card online, you can print and fill out an Application for a Social Security Card and submit it to your local Social Security office. Depending on your situation, you may need to provide additional documentation such as:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Birth certificate
- U.S. passport
- U.S. driver’s license
Getting a new Social Security card is free.