In our previous blog on vital life records, we covered what to keep safe your whole life long. Some documents come with a lifetime commitment, like your marriage (not your workout routine). However, there are even more cards, papers, and IDs that are vital to keep for life, and sometimes even beyond. Let’s take a look.
Social Security Card
First issued in 1936, to track workers’ earnings histories have evolved into a lifetime identifier. Now U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents are issued a Social Security Number on a card. Every American has a Social Security number that follows them for life. You can’t get a job without one. It is a unique number used to identify US taxpayers and track any and all benefits (Medicare or Medicaid) and earnings (SSA retirement or SSA disability benefits) you might receive. Today, parent(s) apply for a Social Security card as soon as a baby is born, and that number stays with him or her throughout their lives.
Once utilized as a common identifier in public, one’s Social Security number was openly displayed on a final exam grade report, repurposed as a Medicare identification number, and before 2011, designated the first three digits as indicative of one’s specific state. The digital era has created a market value in the hands of identity thieves and crooks. Protecting both your Social Security number and the card is vital to keep them safe and secure, as it can often be used alongside your birth certificate as another form of identification. Memorizing your Social Security number, however, is not enough to prove your identity. You’ll need to keep the legitimate original card as it is printed by the government.
If you’ve lost your Social Security card, don’t panic. You can order a replacement card by making an account on the ssa.gov website and following the steps for a lost card. This is also true if you need a replacement card to change your name due to marriage or divorce.
Green Card or Naturalization Papers
If you are a foreign national or if you have been granted US citizenship, keeping your green card (Permanent Resident Card) and/or your naturalization paperwork is vital to prove your citizenship and your permission to live and work permanently within the United States. If you hold a green card, it is imperative you take it with you when traveling abroad to ensure safe reentry into the US. If you’ve lost it, you can request a replacement at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, uscis.gov website.
Your original naturalization papers are key to obtaining a US passport and proving your citizenship for other important documents, such as a Social Security card, a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, and more.
Passport, GOES ID Card, and TSA PreCheck
If you plan on traveling internationally, you’ll need a valid US passport to pass through any customs and border control checkpoint. Your passport will also come in handy as another form of photo identification should you need it, along with your driver’s license or ID card. While the Department of State issues passports, low-risk US citizens may opt to enroll in the US Customs and Border Protection (CBD) called Global Online Entry System (GOES) to expedite their re-entry. Program members receive a card containing their PASS ID, which is presented at the border.
If you’ve signed up for the TSA PreCheck run by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), which is a program that allows you to get through security screening more efficiently. Once you’re fully enrolled, receive your KTN (Known Travelers Number) on a piece of paper, but not a card. You will be issued a number that is unique to you, but like your Social Security card, you’ll need the original paper safe to utilize it. Be sure to keep this paper with your passport and/or GOES ID card when not traveling. If you applied online, but have forgotten your TKN look it up online and visit the TSA’s website.
When not traveling, it is wise to keep these records in a safe place where they won’t be lost, stolen, or damaged. This safe place should be the same place you keep them every time so that they will not be lost or misplaced. We do not recommend a safe deposit box at your bank, as you may not be able to access your box in case of an emergency.
If you’ve served in the military, whether active or retired, keeping your military ID, or your retired military ID for life is also important. The same goes for anyone in your family who might also have a military-issued ID, and for anyone who’s worked at the Department of Defense. Accessing your Common Access Card (CAC) for active duty service members is essential for accessing military installations and buildings. For military family members and other eligible participants, keeping control of your card allows access to benefits, including TRICARE health benefits or shopping at the commissary. There are many perks and offers various companies offer to those in the military if one can prove it. Your military ID is a valid piece of photo identification should you need it as a backup as well.
At Organized Instincts, our seasoned team of daily money managers will help you know what cards, papers, and IDs you’ll need to keep safe for life. If you are overwhelmed or confused by these and other vital life documents, schedule a consultation today.