SSNs to be Removed from Government ID Cards

By the DON CIO Privacy Team - Published, February 15, 2011

Privacy Tip This Privacy Tip provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding upcoming changes to the Department of Defense identification cards. The questions and answers below were reproduced from a recent DoD memo. Changes include the removal of both the sponsor and dependent Social Security number (SSN), the addition of a DoD benefits number for DoD beneficiaries, and the removal of the SSN in the card bar codes. The DoD ID number will be used to support Geneva Convention requirements, as well as other DoD operations and business processes. These DoD ID card changes are consistent with the overall DoD policy to reduce the use and exposure of the SSN and thereby decrease the likelihood of identity theft.

Why is the SSN being removed from DoD ID cards?

These changes are consistent with the overall DoD policy to reduce the use of the SSN and reinforce the growing DoD culture of protection for personally identifiable information (PII). Consistent with this, the planned changes are designed to reduce the risk of identity theft to the DoD ID card populations, while maintaining continuity of DoD business processes.

What is changing on the card?

SSNs will be systematically removed from DoD ID cards. When current cards expire, they will be replaced with new cards having a DoD ID number printed in the Social Security number field. In addition to the DoD ID number, DoD beneficiaries will have a DoD benefits number printed on their card.

What is the DoD identification number and its purpose?

The DoD ID number is a unique 10-digit number that is assigned to every person with a direct relationship to the DoD (as determined by having a record in DEERS). It is a number that already exists and is commonly known as the Electronic Data Interchange Personal Identifier (EDI-PI). Dependents have their own DoD ID number. The DoD ID number will be used to support Geneva Convention requirements, as well as other DoD operations and business processes.

Who will have DoD ID numbers on their ID cards?

Every DoD ID card will have a DoD ID number printed on it. Dependent ID cards will not have the DoD ID number of their sponsor, just their own number.

What is the DoD benefits number?

DoD beneficiaries will also receive a DoD benefits number that will enable improved access to their benefits while reducing reliance on the SSN. The DoD benefits number is an 11-digit number that will be used to determine eligibility to receive benefits. The first nine digits are common to the sponsor. The last two digits identify the specific person. The DoD benefits number will be printed only on ID cards that convey benefits. The DoD benefits number is not in either the bar codes or the integrated circuit chip.

Will the SSN still be in the bar codes?

The SSN will continue to be in the bar codes for now. The SSN Reduction Plan calls for the SSN to be removed from the bar codes beginning in 2012.

When should I go get a new ID card?

Individuals will receive a new card upon expiration of the current card. By the end of May 2011, ID card issuance facilities will begin issuing DoD ID cards without the SSN appearing on the card. Please note that until the cards expire, current cards will remain active and will not need to be replaced.

Will I be able to use these new numbers once I get a new ID card?

The transition to the use of these new numbers, away from the use of SSNs will take place over time. Because cards will be replaced upon expiration, it will be approximately four years until all cards are replaced with the DoD ID number, and where applicable, the DoD benefits number. The key is to ensure that there is no lapse in service to DoD personnel during the transition period.

Where can I get a DoD ID Card?

Individuals eligible for a DoD ID card can contact the nearest ID card issuance facility (a Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) site) or go to to find the nearest location. More than 1,500 RAPIDS sites with over 2,250 workstations worldwide issue identification cards.

What documentation is required to receive an ID Card?

Two valid original forms of ID from the OMB I-9 document list are required. One must be a federal or state issued photo ID. Visit for more information.

Where can I use my new ID card?

The new ID card can be used at all locations where current ID cards are accepted.

Will my ID be rejected without a visible SSN?

No, your ID should not be rejected without a visible SSN; however, you may be asked to verbally state your SSN.

My doctor's office always uses my ID card with SSN as proof of my TRICARE eligibility. How will my doctor validate my eligibility?

The 11 digit DoD benefits number is currently associated with the beneficiary's SSN within DEERS. Medical providers will use the DoD benefits number on new ID cards. DEERS will recognize this number and the process will be transparent to both the beneficiary and the provider.

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