Social Security Cards Explained

Americans love their independence… a nation of pioneers living out from under the eye of government … (except for all the government). As such, unlike many other countries, Americans don’t have a national ID card… …and even the idea of creating one is a political hot topic every election cycle. The results are always the same: we don’t need no ID card. But suspiciously, US citizens do already have this: a card with a unique number that many places will ask for to prove who you are. This is the Social Security card and number… …and it has become a quasi ID / unique password to identify citizens… …though that was never its intended use. For Americans, keeping this number secret is super important… because it’s the key to the government and banks to identifying you as you… … and losing control of it is the worst kind of identity theft that can happen. So how did Americans end up with a national ID number… … that isn’t one and a card terribly unfit to identify? It all started in the great depression of long long ago… … when the government created the social security program, … … a kind of mandatory pension: Citizens would be required to pay in during… … their working lives and withdraw in their retirement. The idea being that even if past-you didn’t save… … for the sunset years of future-you, the eventually old current you… … would still have something to live on. Now if you want to think of social security as a benefit… … the government provides or as a bank account that’s yours … … is… controversial, but either way this number was created … … to track what you put in and what you take out. Now, because this was just one government program… related only to your working life, you only needed to apply… …for a social security card when you actually started working. But over time, that changed and the younger you are, …the more likely you’ve had one from the moment of your birth… …despite babies’ worthlessness as child laborers. So why? Well it goes back to Americans’ having no national identity card… …with a national number, which makes it harder for institutions… … to keep track of people over their lives. With hundreds of millions of citizens, names and birthdays aren’t unique, people move, people marry, people change names. And if you’re trying to keep track of everyone, as say the United States Tax department might want to do, it can be a real problem, particularly in the pre-computer days. “Hey, wait a minute, look, at *this* number just lying around,” the tax department said. “It’s not supposed to be used as an ID number,” said the social security department. “There are security reasons you shouldn’t–” “Yoink!” Thus the tax department piggy-backed off of the work the social security department did assigning working adults a number, which made tracking taxes easier … and they highly encouraged parents to get a social security number… … for their children by tying it to a tax discount. Crazily, counting children for tax rebates used to run on the honor system. The US Tax Department told people: 1. We will give you a discount on your taxes for each child you have. And: 2. Write down your number of children, … …please be honest, we don’t have a way to check. Which was just asking, nay, begging people to lie. Which they did, birthing on paper millions of phantom children. But after requiring each kid to have a social security… … account number connected to a birth certificate… … before the parents could get the tax discount, … … all those phantoms faded away. This turned the social security number into a unique number… … that all citizens had right from the start, … and that made it easy for lots of other places like banks … … and schools and companies and landlords … … to also piggy back on the number as an easy way… … to keep track of people without having to come up… … with their own systems and to be able to exchange information… … about people between institutions. This is super useful for institutions, so, … …the desire of Americans to not have a national identity card led, … …somewhat inevitably, … …to the nearest thing available being used as a substitute… … which ended up being worse because the social security number… … was never designed to be used this way in the long, long ago. And you can tell because it has no security built into it. Ok, so there’s this neat trick that most ID numbers use… …where they can check themselves to see if they’re invalid. The simplest way is to have the last couple digits… … match the sum of the others. All kinds of ID cards and bar codes do this because it makes it impossible… … to enter an incorrect number in a computer, … … and makes it harder for fraudsters to guess valid numbers. This is why if you try to buy something online by guessing… … a credit card number, the website knows it’s invalid… … before you even click buy. But because the Social Security number started life… … in the long, long ago, it’s just a number… … with no self-checking security built in. Worse, if you’re born pre-2011 it’s not that hard to just guess … …most of the number: the first three digits are the state where the … parents applied for the card and the last four digits just count up in order, … … and the middle digits follow a regular pattern. So you can take your number, subtract one and that’s a valid number… … of someone who was probably born in the same hospital… … as you around the same time. Thus a fraudster who knows your time and location of birth… … can probably get the first five digits by just looking them up on a chart. Institutions ask for the last four digits as a code to identify you as you… … which means it’s not that hard to put together your number… … from a security leak anywhere or just by connecting a few puzzle pieces. The physical card itself is no help either: … just a literal piece of cardboard, … … depending on when it was issued, not even laminated. The social security department used to print… … ‘not to be used for identification’ on the cards… … as a futile attempt to stop institutions for asking for them as IDs, … …because there’s nothing identifying a person on the card. But eventually they gave up and removed these words… … because, unlike passports or driver’s licenses, … … you can assume all Americans will have this one card. All this means your social security card and number… … probably have less security than your library card, … …while being vastly more important. So it fails at being a secure number, … … it fails at being a good ID card, … … but at least it is universal* which is why people use it. Oh hello, asterisk, my old friend. No, of course not, this program isn’t actually universal: …not everyone has a social security account number, … …and not everyone pays into the program. If you want to get out of paying you’ll just need to: First: Never have received any social security benefits… … and give up your rights to getting any in the future. Which seems fair. In addition you must also: Be a member of a religion opposed to the idea of social security. Usually because it’s a kind of insurance, and insurance is a kind of gambling. That’s harder, but you could always just start… … your own religion if you were really serious about avoiding taxes. But your new religion must also: Provide for its elderly and dependent members. Which means you have to re-create a social security program of sorts … …in your religion (while also being against social security). But if creating a contradictory religion doesn’t daunt you… Lastly, it must have existed continuously since 1950. Which is a giveaway that this exception was written pretty much exclusively… for the Amish and Mennonites, … … and kills dead your plans unless you’re willing … … to undergo a serious change in lifestyle. It doesn’t stop there: …keep digging and you’ll find all sorts of other weird, weird exceptions: … including some railroad workers, or firefighters, or police, … … or teachers (but only in Chicago). Usually these are groups that in the long long ago… … were able to get out of the program at its creation date. So nothing’s ever straight forward. And that’s the deal with this social security card: … containing a national number for citizens that don’t want one, … … on an identification card, that fails at identification, … … given to all citizens — except when it isn’t — … …for a program that’s universal, except when it’s not. This episode has been brought to you by Squarespace,… … whether you need a domain, a website, or online store, … … make your next move with Squarespace. Does your brand new social security-avoiding religion… … need a website to spread the good news? You should use Squarespace’s all-in-one platform. Their beautiful templates will make it easy to set up, and… … there’s nothing to install, patch, or upgrade, ever. Squarespace is what I use for my personal website… … and I really think you should use it, too. Start your free trial today at … … and enter offer code “Grey” to get 10% off your first purchase.

100 comments on “Social Security Cards Explained”

  1. MarcellusTheGreen says:

    They need to find a way to completely re-issue, privately and without a computer network, the social security numbers to every American.

  2. kennedy baines says:

    Can you do one on birth certificates and the Federal reserve bond numbers on them

  3. Corey Smith says:

    Somewhere Joe Generic is wondering why his identity is being used 24/7

  4. marta Lis says:

    Damn to go thorough so much trouble to avoid having a ID card and end up with way more work and trouble the if you did have an ID card I think is definitely a unique idea

  5. Matthew James Soldato says:

    So Americans don’t need identification but they’re okay with just being a number on a piece of paper?

  6. switchtalent123 says:

    What a shock, the government coming up with something that didn’t work

  7. Joeltsu says:


  8. big hair says:

    Redo this for the new Real ID thing?

  9. Marlyn Hebert says:

    I remember when I got my card, I was told this will never be used as an ID. Right.

  10. Fundamentalist American. says:

    All these dummies in the comment section.: Americans are stupid for not wanting the government to keep track of them….government still does its best to try and undermine Americans wishes…….most likely vote for politicians that want to give more power to government……

    Public education at its best.

  11. draugami says:

    In a world that lives straight forward answers, I love your knack for *exceptions, whether it is for social security or topics of other videos. Your dry humo*ur is great too.

  12. i Lombo says:

    whats your social

  13. Owl Enigma says:

    I would much prefer a national ID as those last longer and have a mug of me on it, to be used to get a job.

  14. Matt Morrissey says:

    Mr.Grey :Yes you with your hand up standing at the front of my desk.
    Matt: could you plz email me at [email protected] if you understand anything about quantum computing or binary code which I dont its actually made me religous again so what I do know is my grandfather is 85 we live in Oklahoma and hes the last of his kind and its weird I was recently drawn to your videos then I seen this and one and idk I guess I was seen on the initial image you chose Joe generic and idk wild world his number is my son's I birthdate
    Mines 5/7
    His 11/20
    And if that wasn't wild enough
    Year he was born 2011
    Year I was born 1991
    Tho 1991 isn't in it lol
    Ohhhh and his name Matthew and hes named after me and I dont stop there my wife cortney
    She had a daughter before we got married her birthday 420
    same year as my son so her daughter was also born 1 month before my may birthdate and my son was born 1 month before her oh and I wished it stopped there her birthdate is 12/7
    Ahahahahhaha I swear I'm losing my mind to my matrix mat-rix oh well it's not like anything matters ….Matt-ers
    Okay okay

  15. For Science says:


  16. Joaquin Andreu says:

    Great idea: Why not add a picture in the SS card, a chip, a new numbering system, some bio info and made it visa card sized?

  17. just a cat. says:

    The epsilon easter egg is good kipflom

  18. madison cherry says:


  19. Trace 23 says:

    And not enough digits to make it a unique number either

  20. Helen Zhong says:

    I was a American citizen for 9 months before moving to Australia and when my dad showed me it I was like whats that and I was born before 2011

  21. Infidel Heretic says:

    We should have one ID card to rule them all!!!

  22. Olliesama says:

    06:17 Kifflom? Like from San Andreas? :O

  23. Retaile23 says:

    Leave it to the government to create a form of id that has no picture, finger print or photograph and yet you could steal a person's identity with it. If that weren't enough, the government, banks and financial institutions aren't held responsible for giving away your good credit to a thief. They are an accessory to identity theft and should be penalized and held liable for not requiring overwhelming (several forms of id's) as proof of a person's identity.

  24. Willy Rempel says:

    So I don’t have to pay social security because I’m a Mennonite? Hmmm

  25. Boxcarz says:

    …The US doesn't have an ID card?
    I'm an American, and I didn't know that. Why don't we want ID cards?

  26. Notorious Bran says:

    America inefficient systems since 1776

  27. BoneS_1972 says:

    WE NEED A ID CARD.. with picture on them . I know so many illegal immigrants using other people SS numbers

  28. Master H says:

    I love how, at 2:36, it's the ID of Joe Generic being used.

  29. Orson Bevins says:

    The government already knows everything. Might as well have one.

  30. KLEBESTIFTglue says:

    Also note: you don't have to be a citizen to have a social security number. Permanent and temporary residents with work authorization need (?) one to earn money.

  31. Mick's WORLD says:


  32. Sean Donovan says:

    Id rather not be tracked my entire life thanks

  33. PeachesAndCream says:

    well, time to steal someone's identity, thanks grey.

  34. Jay SupmemeS says:

    Isn't it ironic that there's a "need" for a card stating who you are but not one that reveals who you're not. That's much more useful, in my opinion. Just saying. 4 teh lulz.

  35. Mark Frost says:

    You scum you bunch of government morons one day you will go down because the people will not put up with you people trying to inslave us

  36. Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen says:

    You are better off getting that money now than when you're 60. For one we're only going to see like 70% of the money we put into the program when the time comes and a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow

  37. ukkr says:

    Yeah, it isn't really AMERICANS! There IS a religion that predicted ALL of this! Say what you want, but it IS there! It talks about the hyper inflation(Though it merely says that what you are paid for a LOT of work will only buy a little food), one world government(Though it only speaks of a fascistic power that will not allow you to buy or sell unless you have a mark), etc…. AND a UNIVERSAL ID(Called the mark)!!!!!!!!!! OH, and it says the mark(AKA ID) can be rescinded, if you do not follow the fascistic government. And SO, all members of it at one point REFUSED anything touching on that ID.

    Well, you know, A couple thousand years of being called kooks, they failed to follow the good advice. But there IS a problem. You see, the social security card was designed by idiots. It isn't even good for TAX collection or special security, let alone the WORLD.

    The government that was prophesied about 2019 years ago is HERE! It has been clawing for power, and gradually getting it, for at least 106 years. It set a deadline, of 2030! And the US came up with a NEW id, probably at the PTBs request! The request was to start by 2015. This apparently started 2005, and was released 2007. For the US, and you can bet the other countries will be forced to comply! The name for it is "REAL ID". OH and it is to be implemented fully in the US by the end of next year….

    So watch YOUR everyday ids. If they suddenly start asking for EVERYTHING, etc….. A drivers license in the US used to only require the most basic of information. NOW, it ALSO requires STRONG ID, like a passport, to show you are who you are, information from billing agencies, to tie you to the location, and information tying you to a social security number, to indicate that the IRS has been given the current information. This is more information than you need for a passport, and CERTAINLY more than you ever needed for a drivers license. You COULD get a limited drivers license, but then people can suspect that you are an illegal alien.

  38. aperson 74 says:

    We just use a driver's license in britain as Id but you dont really need it for most things anyway

  39. Paolo Furfaro says:

    Im an american citizen born abroad with my dad being american, for some reason, they never applied for a social security number for me so i guess i got put of that, but ill probably need it if i ever want to live in the us.

  40. Seal Games says:

    Ill be honest I’ve never given this that much thought, but this makes me realize just how asinine it is. Especially in how it relates to identity theft, the problem with a better national identification card though is you will always get the religious and/or conspiracy theorists shouting “MARK OF THE BEAST” if you propose some kind of mandatory form of national identification symbol (card, chip, document, etc)

  41. Abraham Lincoln says:

    Identity theft is….


  42. Samuel Mendlowitz says:

    Why America why

  43. Isaac Stiltz says:

    Great, I hate it.

  44. gokul balagopal says:

    America should have an ID card

  45. Chris Alcocer says:

    KIFFLOM! Epsilon’s for life. Lay with nine new partners a week.

  46. nin6246 says:

    Thanks government. The government loves us, isn't that wonderful?

  47. Adam Ali says:

    Gambling is illegal is islam, can I get rid of social security too?

  48. Morgan Robins says:

    Its also a trust set up at the federal reserve, thats why its all capital letters not capital first letter lower case for the rest if you look into common law vs trust or corprate law its very interesting.

  49. Brandon Romero says:

    You just revealed everybody's id

  50. Carlos Montalvan says:

    Ok that was a good explanation about the social security card, but what happens if someone never uses their social security card number?….

  51. James MacDonald says:

    Americans using their freedom to inevertinly give away their freedom. Love it XD

  52. Lilly Wheeler says:

    Ahahahahah the Go Fish game with social security cards😂

  53. George Dunn says:

    Yep, outside of deliberate crime, nothing causes more trouble than people discovering "Short Cuts" by co-opting other people's work.

    Of course SSANs are already compromised beyond remedy: the temp hire in the hardware store knows those of all the people who got its discount cards; the hospital orderlies know those of all the patients, or at least they had a chance to; the Army uses them for laundry marks…

  54. Alexander Horner says:

    So, Joe, I see you didn’t get social security numbers for your other 27 children? What’s up with that? Did you lie?

    Er no of course not! Some just died yes and er we just put em back to where they came from yea.

  55. TickaMyNuta says:

    Some poor bastard has that number from the thumbnail and is prolly shitting himself

  56. Lisa Lentile says:

    One thing always remember your spouse's social security number and child in case of emergency

  57. Librarian Villager says:

    Thanks! Now I can avoid paying taxes

  58. Samatar Salah says:

    Well put

  59. pennie h says:

    We don't need no I.d card

  60. Niño says:

    Kifflom, brother-brother!

  61. Steve Pettersen says:

    It's the Social Security Administration, not department.

  62. Jeremy Shaffer says:

    You don't own your social security says so on the card..the government owns it and they sell it on the stock market on the presumption on how much taxes you will pay the 42 USC 3002 cooperation..aka the United States

  63. Catalyst - D B says:

    I used to work for a company that sold social security numbers for profit. Found out from a coworker who was tasked with that job and upon finding out what his new station would entail, he said he couldn’t do it and we both quit together same day.

    Boss was pissed. We didn’t care. We love being on the right side of the law.

    Kinda scary though. The company is called PRImerica. Red white and blue logo. Beware.

  64. skankhunt42 says:

    It’s given to non-immigrants Aliens as well

  65. Anik Samiur Rahman says:

    The land of freedom, where you're watched even in your bedroom and bathrooms.

  66. Alex Auer says:


  67. Daniel Thundersteel says:

    its weird cause where I am from, we have a) IDs and b) tax identification numbers. but we dont have a general ID "number" like that. like, we can identify ourselfes with our ID card, but we dont have a number we can just punch in there to identify ourselfes. and tbh, I have never in my life seen the need for that. so why do you even need your social security number in so many situations? is it just cause you cant show an ID card to prove your identity? i never had to use an identification number or something like that online.

  68. Delicious Debris says:

    Lol, retarded Americans.

  69. Tylr says:

    And thus "moderation" led to the worse of all outcomes. And thus the "for the common good" clause was again abused.

  70. Michella Nascimento says:

    Im scared dude the first number on the paper ate 2:48 was my birth month (7) and the next (23) is my birthday Dude!!!!!!!!

  71. Jim Rogers says:

    The conclusion sounds pretty much like any govt prog ever in any country at any time…

  72. macsnafu says:

    How can I talk about the Social Security card without getting into politics? GREY!!!
    I got mine when I was 7 back in 1972. And of course I laminated it. It's rather fun to see my 7-year-old signature on the card.

  73. Matty Matt says:

    except now we have to have a id card in order to travel any where or to show police when we get pulled over… thanks dmv

  74. Joshua A. Kennedy says:

    Your social security is your slave number. You can't work with out it. You might as well have it tattooed on your arm like Germany. But we are not putting you in a death camp. Instead we want You alive so you are on the America slave plantation. Your credit report is to see if you are a good slave or a bad slave. On the plantation this was done by the lashes on their back. You would think we would have learned by now.

  75. theodore roberts says:

    We have a mandatory id that will be law by October 2020, but America didn't come up with it, United Nations did.
    Why is the U.N. making U.S. law?

  76. Wavy LikedavieeTV says:

    And you still loophole the taxes by claiming they still wouldn’t catch it 😂😂

  77. Lethalshed gaming says:

    Glad I don't live there cause I don't want any stalkers in my house…

  78. Marco Anaya says:

    Um… I live in Chicago 6:50

  79. Michael De santa says:

    Using TAXPAYERS $ for the military industrial complex and for other globalist elites agendas

  80. Alex Salinas says:

    I don't get why americans don't want an ID card, can someone pls give me a valid reason

  81. BlacKNyT says:

    I thought if you loose social security card, no body would talk to you. 🤔🤔

  82. H Dawg Studios says:

    Ew ohio

  83. Resistencia Liberal says:

    Canada is very similar to the USA in this aspect.

  84. sghshs sjshshshshshshshshshsh says:

    Heard that it’s printed on a slip of paper, not cardboard. What a joke.

  85. K M says:

    Yeah? Then why do we need that NEW ID CARD that has facial recognition technology so that we can fly, travel or even enter a federal building starting in 2020?

  86. 4TIMESAYEAR says:

    Social Security card says on it "not for identification purposes" – at least mine does. Maybe newer ones don't. Have plenty of people asking for it; I tell them "No". First time someone has confirmed my belief that insurance is a form of gambling – thank you.

  87. Nathan Jennings says:

    I thought passport cards were the national ID card for Americans

  88. Kon Karne says:

    Imagine that number on the thumbnail is someone’s actual ssn 💀

  89. Kody Golden says:

    Praise Jesus, ban wheels. Im not paying these devil taxes.

  90. Pepino8A says:

    Laughes in European

  91. venkata jayanth says:

    Joe's father is either a greed for tax concession or he is some serious stud

  92. Mike M says:

    It's not a social security number its a account number idiot's .

  93. Omar Abuaita says:

    The biggest Ponzi scheme on Earth…


    Driver's license

  95. Yardmaster's Wealth Education Center says:

    What about simply showing that you are against breaking the law? Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, after all.

  96. Georg Andexler Andexler says:

    CGP Grey. It's Great the effort you put into explaining this card. Wasn't boring and I actually learned something KUDOS

  97. Alfonso Gonzalez says:

    Know your premises need copy Alfonso gonzalez Facebook and Google

  98. Delgen1951 says:

    so its Chaotic neutral with good intentions.

  99. frankiepizzurro says:

    Can anyone prove I’m not Amish?

  100. Jose Garcia says:

    So dumb. Should have gone with the National Id.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *