DoD Ditches All Visible SSNs From IDs


The days of seeing security numbers on military ID cards are quickly coming to an end, a story on reports.

DoD has been quietly issuing new ID cards sans SSN since June 1, the story says. Rather than display the full or even partial number, IDs display two alternate DoD ID numbers. One is a “general” ID number and the other is used specifically to claim and verify benefits. The full social security number is still embedded in the bar code on the back of the ID. Eventually officials plan to phase out the SSN as the ID of choice all together, using instead those new numbers.

The new IDs will be issued as old ones are lost or are within 30 days of expiring. Retirees, who have IDs with no expiration date, can retrieve a new card at any time. That means I’ll be suffering with my husband’s last four displayed for the world and my incredibly bad photo for the world to see until 2014. Fabulous.

But don’t go erasing that magic number sequence from your psyche just yet. The story isn’t long on details on how the new ID numbers were developed or how and when they’ll be widely used. I’d assume systems such as Tricare can’t switch to the new system until everyone is rolled into it. … and that could take a long time.

Dependents’ ID cards have been issued without the sponsor’s full number displayed since mid-2008, when the system switched to only displaying the “last four.” Until now, servicemembers still have had their full number displayed on the back of the card. Under the new system no ID card will visibly contain the number.

DoD officials at Fort Bliss said in the story that this is being done to reduce identity theft problems. Like the story says, we can hope that this cuts down on the problem. But until social security numbers aren’t tied to any aspects of the military the issue will likely remain front and center. This is true not just for active duty members, but, like I reported in June, for deceased ones as well.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Dana

    So glad they are finally making the move. But I got my newest ID card since 2008 and it still has my husband’s full social. Too bad it has to be years and years before they finalize this process.

    • Amy

      That’s strange — I got mine in June of 2008 and it only has the last four …

      • Heather

        I got my new one in Dec 2010 and it shows my husband’s full SS (USAF)

  • Petra

    They have different rules everywhere it seems. Ingot a new card last April, and it had my SSN crossed out, but still showed. Which of course makes it hard for me, seeing how I know HIS by heart, but can’t ever remember mine (only got mine a few years ago, after already knowing his for 3 years…)

    When he had to have his ID replaced while we visited Germany, it already came without his as well…

  • Interesting. I got my new card (when I got married) in 2010 and it has his full SSN on there, which is great since I’m still memorizing it (I know, I know, I need to just remember it already)! And, actually, this is a new one as of early 2011 when he changed rank.

    I would like it if it didn’t have our SSN on there, but for the time being it’s been extremely helpful as a new military spouse!

  • I just got married, and my ID card is one of the new ones without my husband’s full SSN. I like the new feature, however everyone still asks for the SSN instead of the benefits ID number. Change is always a work in progress…