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My Identity has Expired!

Carolyn Mounce

My Identity has Expired!
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My Identity has “Expired”!

 

From the Texas Department of Public Safety:

 

“A driver license is no longer used solely as a document demonstrating authorization to drive.  The driver license or identification certificates are the nationally accepted form of identification and both are used daily to establish identity at airports, banks, when writing checks, voting, or applying for governmental aid.”

 

As people age, there comes a time when they must give up driving.  This is not a step that is taken willingly.  A vehicle is a reflection of the driver’s identity.  It may be flashy, or practical.  It may be old or new.  It is certain that there is something in the interior that makes their vehicle unique.  When a person has to give up driving, they loose their identity by more than just loosing their car.  They may think that they no longer need a driver’s license.  A driver’s license has become the primary form of identification.  If a license is allowed to expire, then the person’s identity “expires”.

 

There is a second form of ID available, a State Identification Card.  This is used for identification the same as a driver’s license.  State identification cards are issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety from the same offices as the driver’s licenses.

 

A person can hold both a State ID and a Driver’s License.  This is important, because people don’t want to give up their Driver’s License.  They don’t have to they just need to add a State ID.

 

The longer a person waits, after a driver’s license expires, the more difficult it becomes to get a replacement or a state identification card.

 

The need for an identification card is going to become more and more important.  Voting is the primary thing that brought this issue to my attention, but hurricane evacuations, or FEMA assistance, cashing a check or making a credit card purchase also require identification.  If a person needs to travel on an airplane, they will need identification.  This problem encompasses the elderly and disabled that are in the community as well as those in facilities.

 

I DON’T WANT MY IDENTITY TO EXPIRE!

 

I am only going to focus on suggestions for Long Term Care facilities, but keep in mind that there are thousands of elderly people in the community that depend on Meals-on-Wheels because they have no transportation.

 

If a person has a current driver’s license, or a driver’s license that is within two years of expiration, they can take their license to the local driver’s license renewal office and apply for a state id.  A current passport may be presented in lieu of a current driver’s license, but not many LTC residents have a current passport.

 

If the driver’s license has been expired for over two years, then additional proof of identity is required.  The most commonly available documents are a certified birth certificate and an original social security card and an original voter registration card.  There are other forms of identification that can be used, but it is rare for someone in LTC to have a pilot’s license or a concealed handgun license.  The longer a person waits, the more difficult it becomes to get a state id.

 

Currently, there is no easy way to convert a driver’s license to a state identification card.  Application for a card must be made in person at a local driver’s license renewal office.  (It is ironic to me, that the people who are least mobile and least able to deal with long lines, are required travel and stand in line to prove that they can no longer drive and need a state id card.)

 

The DPS offers a program called “Homebound”.  This program allows a DPS officer to travel to a person’s location to process the application for state identification card.  This program needs to be renamed “Bedridden”.  Not because of its inability to serve a need, but because of the people it serves.  Only someone who is bedridden can request the “Homebound” identification application process.  Wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen tanks, or geri chairs do not qualify for “Homebound”.  Also, lack of transportation during DPS renewal office hours does not qualify for a “Homebound” application.

 

I’VE LOST MY IDENTITY!

 

When a person enters a LTC facility, they are told not to keep valuables in their room.  So, where does one keep a voter registration card, social security card or state id card?  If they are kept in a wallet, there is no secure place in the room for the resident to leave it.  It can be picked up by staff, other residents or people visiting another resident.

 

Since the facility is not required to keep these documents for the resident, the facility usually requests that a family member or responsible party keep these papers.  This means that this information must be retrieved by the family member when needed.

UPDATE:  This was originally written in 2011.  In 2015, I have gotten feedback that people have been successful in getting the DPS to come out to an assisted living facility to process an ID card.  It appears that things are moving in the right direction! 

Comments?  Email me at carolyn@ombuddies.org