Why all students need a state ID card before age 18

Can you guess what these common activities have in common?

  • Opening a bank account
  • Buying a fishing license
  • Going to a doctor appointment

To do any of the tasks above, you need to show a state-issued identification card to verify your name and address. Official ID cards are also needed to set up a post office box, fly on an airplane, or register to vote. And most importantly for many transition students, official identification documents are necessary for employment and for receiving benefits and services.

Identity cards are a key to employment, housing, and services. Yet many students finish high school without the three documents most important for independent living: their birth certificate, their social security card, and their state-issued photo identity card.


ID Cards: A major goal for minor students

Parents can help their children get these documents while they are still minors, under age 18. This helps them get ready for living independently in a number of ways. After age 18, transition students who don’t yet have their documents are responsible for taking care of this on their own.

Having identification documents in hand is especially important when transition students begin looking for employment, according to Patty Bates, Youth Transition Specialist at Crook County High School.

“One of our students was offered a job, but only had a school ID card. He needed to be fingerprinted for the job, but couldn’t do that without a state-issued ID. He ended up losing that job, just because it would take too long to get the ID,” she said.

Each document can take several weeks to arrive, said Bates, so it’s important to go through the paperwork long before you may need to show the cards for a job or for services. “One student of ours had a social security number, and got a job, but he couldn’t cash the check,” said Bates. “He needed an official photo ID to that—so he was working but couldn’t get his pay. It’s important to get this done,” she added.

Ready to get those ID documents in order? Parents can order documents for their children until age 18, when they become legal adults. Here are some tips to make it happen:


Birth Certificates

  • The US government keeps track of vital records, including birth certificates, through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. Click on the state where your student was born, and follow the instructions listed there. Be sure to ask for a certified birth certificate, not simply a copy.
  • Birth certificates from the state of Oregon can be ordered online, by telephone, or by mail. Several websites offer this service, but the state of Oregon only recommends VitalCheck.com.
  • Parents requesting birth certificates for their children need to provide specific information and copies of their own ID documents. The fee for the certificate ranges from $25 to $44.


Social Security Number (SSN)

  • A Social Security number is used to pay taxes, and also to receive benefits from government programs for people with disabilities. Some children with disabilities aren’t registered with these programs because their families fully support them, but as adults they may want to receive these services. To do that, they’ll need a social security number.
  • To apply for a SSN, go to a Social Security Office near you. There is no fee for applying for a SSN, or for getting a replacement card. The application form can be downloaded and filled out before you go.
  • Children age 12 and older must go in person with their parent. They’ll need a certified birth certificate, and an additional document such as a medical record or school record. Parents need their own state-issued ID cards as well.


Photo ID Card

  • Some transition students learn to drive during high school, and use their driver’s license as their photo ID card. But for many transition students, a driver’s license is a goal for the future. In that case, a state-issued photo ID is the answer.
  • Non-driver ID cards are issued at Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. The application form is available online. After completing the application form,bring it to the DMV in person, to verify your identity and have your photo taken. You’ll need a social security number to complete the application form—the state of Oregon won’t issue an ID without one.
  • The DMV needs to see proof of your legal name (the birth certificate works for that!) and proof of your permanent address. There are many ways to verify the address, like a utility bill or a paycheck stub. If none of those apply for the student, their parents can bring their own proof of address, and state that their child lives with them.


Disability Cards

ID cards can communicate a person’s name, age and address, but what if more information is necessary?

Some people with IDD and autism carry a disability card with them in addition to their photo ID. A disability card can be given to police or EMTs in case of an emergency, to help them better understand and interact with the person.

The front of the card may state something like “I have autism. I may have difficulty understanding your directions, and I may not be able to respond to your directions.”

These cards are especially helpful for people who are non-verbal or who react strongly to being touched. Examples of disability cards can be found at AutismIDCard.com or JustDigIt.org.