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Who Am I?

After I got a letter last week telling me that I couldn’t get my replacement Social Security card with the information I provided, I decided I would go in person. I still couldn’t get it. I gave the extremely condescending guy insurance cards, my EBT card, my photo voter ID, my expired permit, a statement from the doctor’s office I had just left, my library card, and most of my credit cards. None of it could be used. They have to “make sure” I’m really me. 

I asked why they couldn’t consult with the ADPH to get proof of my ID from them, since they issue birth certificates. He told me they don’t issue them. Bullshit. He then said that that would basically be completing an errand for me. 

They wanted me to go back to a doctor and get them a certified copy of my medical record because “THAT would be easiest.” I asked how they expected me to pay for it. They shrugged. I asked why they thought buying my medical record so I could prove who I am to get a free card so I could then turn around and prove who I am to get a license.1  I tried to explain why paying $30 to get the record was not a reasonable idea for someone who only receives around $700 a month. I asked him how much he made, but he said I shouldn’t try to make this a personal issue. I don’t think he understood that $30 dollars2 is around 5% of my monthly budget. Expecting me to spend 5% of my monthly budget to get a document so that I can get another document so I can get an ID to prove who I am is personal

I asked to talk to his boss. She was worse. She “explained” that they needed more biographical information—which only includes things that don’t change—including, in their words, name, date of birth, parent names, age, hair color, eye color, and sex; but it doesn’t include address because that can change. Apparently, they are unaware of name changes, adoption or foster care, birthdays, hair dye or aging, contacts or health condition, and being transgender.3

I understand why they restrict what they can take, but they don’t seem to understand that they’re making a vital piece of identification inaccessible for lower income people. They don’t understand that expecting someone who can’t drive and can’t work to provide information from the DMV or from their employer is laughable. Things that may be easy for one person to provide are difficult for people who lack money and access. 

Life isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s harder when you have more obstacles preventing you from accessing even the most simple of things. 

Photo credit: akahawkeyefan via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA


  1. The guy then suggested I go get a new ID from the DMV. Apparently, he didn’t understand that having a social security card is a basic requirement for the DMV. 

  2. It’s the maximum that UAB will charge for records. If I was only on Medicaid, they couldn’t even do that. 

  3. When I pointed out a person can change their sex, she said that I was misunderstanding her words. 

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Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

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