MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Should You Laminate Your Social Security Card?

Social Security Cards: To Laminate or Not To Laminate

Your Social Security card is super important, but it’s also super flimsy. Laminating it would seem like a good way to keep it from gradually deteriorating over the years, right? But should you laminate your Social Security Card? NO WAY, absolutely not! (At least according to the Social Security Administration.) And it’s not because you might have to update it in the future, like you would a COVID-19 vaccination card. It’s actually because laminating your Social Security Card prevents detection of its security features.

Back in 1983, the SSA overhauled its card making process & introduced a bunch of new security features to make cards less susceptible to counterfeiting. In addition to being printed on banknote paper, all cards made after October 31, 1983, have at least one of these features: a tamper-proof background; color-shifting ink; engraved text; yellow, pink, and blue circles; a hidden image that’s only visible if the card is tilted a certain way; or an anti-copy pattern that only shows up if you photocopy the card. So, if your card was issued before 1983, it probably doesn’t have those built-in security measures (but you still shouldn’t laminate it). If your card was printed after February 1996, it probably also has your 9-digit number in red fluorescent ink on the back. And, if you got yours after April 2007, then your card’s issue date is most likely beneath your signature line.

If you’ve already laminated your Social Security card, don’t get too worked up about it. It’s not illegal, though it could create some issues if you were to, say, start a new job (your new gig’s HR folks might refuse it as a valid form of identification).

So, how can you protect your card instead of laminating it? Just stick it inside a baseball card sleeve or some other clear removable plastic case.

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