Laminating documents can be a great way to protect them while also adding support and preventing tears and wrinkles. The downside to lamination, however, is that it can prevent access to the actual original document itself. Because a laminated piece of paper is encased in plastic, it can be difficult to examine the actual properties of the document, potentially leading to questions about the document’s authenticity or originality.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to consider the ramifications of lamination when it comes to official documents, including your Social Security card or your Medicare identification card. On the one hand, you want to protect the structural integrity of these cards, but on the other, you will often need to present the original card intact when conducting official business. If the card is laminated, is it still considered an official and original document?

What the Social Security Administration Says

According to the Social Security Administration, or SSA, you should not laminate your Social Security card. The Administration states this on its website, but you can also find a similar statement on the back of your Social Security card. The reason given for discouraging lamination is that it can potentially cause certain security features to fail to function. Likewise, you could also encounter a problem if the authenticity of your laminated card is called into question. Because the card is laminated, you may not be able to prove that the card is genuine, possibly causing problems when you need to use the card for identification purposes.

Alternatives to Lamination

Thankfully, there are other methods available to protect your Social Security card or Medicare identification card while still keeping it intact for presentation. Many people keep Social Security cards and other important documents in a safe at home. Doing this can allow you to have access to your card when you need it while protecting it against damage. The potential drawback to storing your Social Security card or Medicare identification card in a safe is that you will need to know that the card is needed ahead of time in order to have it with you.

If you need your cards on a regular basis, you might also consider using a protective case that can be carried in your purse or pocket. Business card cases do a fantastic job at protecting Social Security cards, and they are small enough to be carried almost anywhere. Simply carrying one of these cards in a purse or wallet may lead to damage over time.

If Your Card is Lost or Damaged

If your card does end up becoming damaged to the point of being unreadable or it is torn, you should seek to replace it as soon as possible. Lost or stolen Social Security cards need to be reported to the Social Security Administration, and you might want to consider using a credit monitoring service to ensure that no one tries to use the information from your missing card to assume your identity. Similarly, a lost of damaged Medicare card needs to be reported to your local Medicare administration office.

In order to replace a damaged or missing card, you will need to submit documentation to prove your identity. In many cases, these documents include a state-issued driver’s license, a United States passport or a birth certificate. To learn more about acceptable documents, contact your local Social Security office or your local Medicare administration office.

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