Every year, the Social Security Administration processes, prints, and issues tens of millions of replacement Social Security Cards. This costs the government untold printing / postage costs and places an enormous burden on both service representatives and citizens to visit their local office for a replacement.
Instead of reissuing cards on security paper by postal mail, allow citizens to sign in online at SSA.gov and print their cards at home; much like you can for insurance cards and other commercial forms of ID.
To control counterfeiting and the misuse of the self-print service, SSA could institute several measures:
1) Place the following information on the printed card (in addition to the standard name and SSN):
• a unique string of characters that is issued each time a card is printed online; similar to the security code stamped on credit and debit cards.
• the date that the card was issued/printed, along with a notice that the card will expire in X months to reduce value in counterfeit sales/distribution.
• a URL where the card can be verified (i.e. www.ssa.gov/cardcheck)
2) Create an online application at the noted URL that would allow third parties to enter the SSN, the unique code, and the issue date. By inputting a valid combination of information, the application would return the name of the individual, exactly as displayed on the card. This would allow any 3rd party to verify the authenticity of cards presented to them.
The service could be further enhanced for 3rd parties by printing a barcode or QR on the card. Using a web service API and/or mobile application that can utilize a device camera or scanner, they could quickly submit the info for an instant response.
This service would not only result in significant savings, but more importantly, provide a safe/convenient service for millions of citizens every year.