I love puzzler questions. One of my clients surrendered his driver’s license and wondered whether he really needed the hassle of a state-issued ID to replace it. It’s going to require a trip to the DMV with paperwork to prove who he is. He’s got a passport and a Medicare card. He doesn’t go out much. He questioned why get a state ID? What will you tell your parents when they have this same question?
Why Get a State ID?
A state-issued ID looks like a driver’s license and fits in your wallet, unlike a passport. If you don’t drive, a state ID gives you an easy way to prove who you are and where you live. If you are an adult without a driver’s license, it is worth the hassle to get one before you need it. Here’s why.
State IDs Prove Residence
You may be able to prove your place of residence with utility bills or shipping labels, but it’s much more cumbersome than having a plastic state-issued ID in your wallet.
Other places that require proof of residence include libraries, banks, and tax preparers.
Voting registration is based on where you live, which is easier to prove with a state ID.
Get Medical Care with a State ID
Many doctor’s offices ask for your ID to support your insurance claim, especially for new patients.
Pharmacies ask for ID before handing over a prescription and some over-the-counter meds as well, like Sudafed.
Travel with a State ID
You need a government ID to get on a plane. Sure, you could use your passport for domestic travel, but it’s just not as easy to carry as an ID in your wallet. Once a senior’s passport expires, do they really want to pay the relatively high fee (currently $130 standard fees with a turnaround time of 8-12 weeks!) to renew it? Even if your senior doesn’t think he or she is going to fly for fun, do they really want to give up that option forever?
(I’m sidestepping the issue of REAL IDs, as the deadline for acquiring one in PA has been pushed back many times. The process of getting a REAL ID isn’t much different than getting a standard ID, unless you’ve had a name change during your lifetime. Annoying says every woman over 30, but it shouldn’t be a show-stopper. If yours is up for renewal, definitely get the REAL ID. Just be sure to bring all the documents needed, as well as some backup documents, to the DMV.)
Transact Business with a State ID
You need ID for property transactions, including selling a home or moving into a new apartment. Many families evenutually have to make emergency living arrangements for their senior family members, even if their family members currently are in good health and live in their own home or an adult community. Do you want to make those arrangements easier for your family members by having a government-issued ID handy?
Protect Yourself with a State ID
If you only have one valid ID and it gets lost, getting the replacement ID can be harder. Not having any ID at all while the original gets replaced can be really inconvenient.
It’s not just the elderly who fall victim to identity theft, as I’ve written many times before. When this happens, the financial institution addressing your claim will sometimes require ID with proof of residence.
So, yes, I think it’s worth the one-time hassle to get a state ID. In some states, you may be able to get the new ID online if you haven’t already surrendered a valid diver’s license. Here are the requirements to renew a driver’s license or photo ID online in Pennsylvania.
Children may not be able to get a state ID, but you can print a child ID for yourself here.
Ironically, the document that makes getting your state-ID a slam dunk is your Social Security Card, which many people can’t easily lay their hands on. Your social security card does not have a photo, and you can get a replacement social security card easily online...if you have a valid driver’s license or state ID and a smartphone. It takes about 14 days to receive the new card in the mail, so plan ahead.
Thanks to my NAPO colleagues who helped me with this puzzler of a question. If your important documents aren’t where you can easily find them, or you need assistance getting your important documents in order, please contact a Certified Professional Organizer.