When Soren was born, we filled out paperwork in the hospital for him to get a Social Security number. A few weeks later, his card arrived in the mail, and that was that. When Eleri was born, I remember signing a form indicating that we intended to get her a SSN, but I thought it was up to us to tend to the actual application process. Ever the procrastinator that I am, I never quite got around to dealing with it until, with tax time rapidly approaching, it's become necessary to get a number assigned to her so that we can claim her as a dependent on our taxes.
The local Social Security Office is right down the road from our apartment, so that's convenient. Less convenient is that they share parking with several other large offices (one of which seems to be a temp agency or job corps center or somesuch), so it can be very difficult to find a parking space. Early last week I tried to go to the office and could not find a single free space. So I decided I'd try again on Thursday, aiming to get there right when they opened for business.
We made it about 15 minutes after opening, and even then we had to park waaaay down the lot. We got inside, waited in the first line just to get a number (so we could wait some more, later on, for our turn to be processed) and before too hideously long, we got up to the counter. I whipped out the completed application and Eleri's birth certificate, which is required for "evidence of age." I was quickly and somewhat snarkily informed, however, that a birth certificate is not sufficient for use as "evidence of identity." Even for a baby. Acceptable options would have been hospital birth records (which we obviously don't have), an insurance card with her name on it (sorry, policy holder's name is no good, even if it's the same name as one of the parents listed on her birth certificate), a state ID card, or notarized copies of medical or vaccination records. Okaaaay. I grumpily stalked out of there and set about considering the options.
I concluded that the simplest course of action would probably be (now don't laugh) to go to the DMV (Hey, I said no laughing!) and get her an ID card. I remembered getting my driver's license printed right there, so I thought we'd probably be able to get the ID, then return to the SSA and still get everything wrapped up that very day. So off we went to the DMV, where we waited in line for a number, then waited for our number to be called, then processed the paperwork and got the kids' pictures taken for ID cards (decided to get Soren one too, since we were there). After all that was said and done, the DMV employee informed me that the cards would be arriving in the mail, 7-10 days hence. Curses! Tom says he remembers getting a temporary paper license when we moved here and then having his actual driver's license mailed, but I swear they were printed on the spot. Oh well.
Hey, fun fact. The required items to obtain a state ID card: birth certificate, and proof of residency (my VA driver's license). That's it! Why oh why, Social Security Administration, can't those same items suffice to prove one's identity in your application process?! It makes no sense. Grr.
In the afternoon, I called the birth center to ask what home birthers normally do when it's time to get their offspring recognized by the SSA. I was informed that the process is actually virtually identical to that of a hospital birth. The midwife issues a certification of live birth, which is submitted to the local health department, which passes on the necessary info to the SSA. A quick look in my chart revealed that, indeed, the certification had been sent to the health department, the health department had sent back a notice acknowledging receipt of said certification, and we should have received Eleri's Social Security card in the mail months ago! *headslap*
My last order of business, then, was to call the local health department to try and track down the necessary papers and see where the process got stalled out. I called twice, and both times it went straight to voice mail. I'll try again this week, and probably also try again from the SSA side of things to see if it's possible that she's already been issued a number and they can just look it up for me (provided, of course, that I can show sufficient proof of my identity, and possibly perform some sort of DNA test so I can prove I'm actually Eleri's mother).
Way to operate intelligently, Social Security Administration. Way to fricking go.