Part of my new job is looking at people’s credit reports. There is a field that states when the Social Security number was assigned. I am among the last generation when getting a Social Security number was a right of passage. It definitely was for me.
Now babies have their numbers before leaving the hospital. I remember back in 1987 the laws changed so that in order to declare a dependent on taxes, they needed the child’s Social Security number. That year millions of of dependents disappeared off the tax roles. (True – Snopes confirms it!) As much as I want to think positively about my fellow Americans, I have a strange feeling that that many people did not become emancipated adults in a year.
Back when I was 12, Ma told me we were going to set up my very own savings account. I was helping her with bill paying (at that point I think I was only licking the stamps – mmmmm stamp paste), and having a bank account was such a grown up thing. I was all excited.
So Ma got off early one day and we went to her credit union. We were whisked into a little room where we sat with a new account representative. Ma explained we were there to set up my savings account.
The bank lady smiled and started to take my information.
Bank lady: Name?
Ma: It needs to be your legal name.
Frowning I said, “Tamara”
Bank lady: Social Security number?
Ma and I just looked at each other. That was the end of getting my bank account take one.
Ma arranged to get off early another day, and we went down to the social security office with my birth certificate and my junior high ID. What other photo ID does a 12 year old have? We hoped we’d get done in enough time to make it to the bank.
We filled out the form and brought it up to the clerk. The clerk took the form, looked at the my birth certificate and my school ID and said we should be getting the Social Security card in the mail in 4-6 weeks.
Ma and I looked at each other. She had the presence of mind to ask if we could have a temp card. I smiled. Ma is so smart. We were both a bit crestfallen when we were told the numbers were assigned centrally.
About a month later I got a very official looking piece of mail. It was like the new phone book had arrived. I was so excited.
Ma and I went down to the credit union again. This time I proudly presented my Social Security card, and I walked out an account holder.
All my birthday checks went into that account, and later my first paychecks joined them.
Thanks, Ma for your patience throughout the process. Happy birthday.