May 17, 2007

New Social Security Cards Coming?

There was a major agreement today on a new immigration bill. The bill may go through many more changes before it passes, if it ever does, but this agreement is a major step forward. While the bill has many implications, this blog is concerned with the question of what effect it will have on the Social Security Administration. Here is part of a story in the Los Angeles Times:
The bill focuses heavily on border security and work-site enforcement, two areas that the senators spent weeks negotiating in painstaking detail. ... Work-site enforcement would include a tamper-proof ID, probably a Social Security card, that some Senate aides said would have to be presented in combination with a passport or tamper-proof driver's license.
Assuming this "tamper-proof ID" is a Social Security card (and it is hard to imagine what else it might be) would this be a big deal for Social Security? The new Social Security card might require a photograph of its holder or some form of "biometric" information. Getting the equipment and personnel to create such cards just for those who need a new or replacement card would be a major undertaking.

However, everyone in the United States would have to get one of these new Social Security cards sooner or later. Most Americans would have to get a new Social Security card within the next few years. Thereafter, everyone might have to get a new Social Security card periodically as their appearance changed. This has the potential to make Social Security offices resemble drivers license bureaus. How much additional staff might this require? We will have to know the details to get a better picture and even then it will take much study to get a good idea, but a wild guess is that this might require a Social Security Administration that is double or triple its current size.

Let me be the first to say that if this happens, it may end up being wonderful news for the Social Security Administration. Currently, few Americans have the misfortune of having to deal with the critically understaffed Social Security Administration. That will not be the case if Social Security has to start issuing tamper-proof Social Security cards. The terrible service that Social Security provides at the moment would never last once large numbers of Americans have to start dealing with the agency.


Anonymous said...

Not only would SSA have to increase in size, I'd expect some of the following changes if SSN cards changed to include "biometric" data or photos:

-Fees for SSN cards (Good!)
-Wait times increase drastically because of additional processing and interview time, despite increased staff
-SSA increases the number of "Social Security Card centers" (currently found in New York City and Las Vegas, NV) to take SS-5 traffic away from the FO
-Wait time to receive a card becomes similar to US passports (six weeks, with an "expedited" open available for a fee)
-Service reps begin drinking more as the ID requirements to get cards become even more strict and confusing to explain to angry populace.

Anonymous said...

Also: lines at SSA offices around the block filled with former illegals who want their own SSNs.

Anonymous said...

Well as far as I'm concerned the bill is BS. The enforcement is all promises and they don't even enforce the laws that are on the books now, but once those people get legal status they are here for good and just insentive for the next bunch to come here.

The Social Security cards will be a hassle for the agency, but what ticks me off is that every person that worked illegally will be able to get credit for that work once they have legal status.

If the media told this fact to the American public all of those bozos would be voted out of office.

RS 00301.102 Additional Requirements for Alien Workers- Social Security Protection Act of 2004


4. SSN Assigned On or After 1/1/2004: Alien NH Has "Work SSN," Prior Status as Undocumented Alien

Now watch this section of POMS be made "Sensitive."

Anonymous said...

It will be SNAFU at SSA.

Anonymous said...

They already give credit for wages earned under TIN numbers for Illegals once they gain LAPR or citizenship status and can file for an SSN. So this is somewhat in place already. But still think of all the potential 2.8 earnings issues. It could be a real headache.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why SSA would need to take a picture for those who already possess state ID. We already exchange data with the states. The digital image on your Drivers License is just more data to exchange. Alternately, we could just get rid of state DL's and ID's and instead have the state add that data to the National ID Card. No big deal. More jobs security for us employees.