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Should a Nursing Home Resident in Pennsylvania Maintain Valid Photo ID?

Should a nursing home resident in Pennsylvania maintain valid Photo ID? The short answer is yes! More and more, our elderly clients encounter situations where they must present valid photo id, even when they no longer drive and have no plans to travel outside the country. The need for photo id can occur suddenly and the lack of it can cause unexpected problems, especially for those family members trying to help a senior.

Some third parties will accept an expired driver’s license, but most do not. If a senior is no longer driving, they should still visit the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (PennDOT) and obtain a non-driver’s license Photo ID. The easiest way to secure the Photo ID is to visit your local PennDOT service center before the ID expires. PennDOT’s website has the form for you to print and complete in advance of your visit.

The PennDOT website also lists the documentation to bring. An original birth certificate with a raised seal, Social Security card, valid US passport, copies of tax papers, utility bills, tax records, and lease agreements, are examples of documents you can bring that will result in a successful visit. The fee is $38.50 at the time of this writing. PennDOT is more efficient, and customer-oriented these days than you might expect. If you have what you need at your visit, you can normally leave with the new Photo ID in hand.

Remember that even if your driver’s license or Photo ID is not expired, it must be updated if there has been an address change. For example, if a senior downsizes to an apartment, moves to assisted living or to live with a child, the address for the Photo ID must be updated with PennDOT. There is no fee for a Pennsylvania Photo ID change of address.

Here are 10 reasons to make sure the senior in your life has current Photo ID:

  1. Banking Purposes for Estate and Medicaid Planning. Photo ID may be required when engaging in estate planning and Medicaid planning. In estate planning situations, it can sometimes be advisable to open a new bank account, re-title an existing account, add a POA to an account, or create beneficiary designations. Even if the banker has worked with the senior for many years, the bank’s compliance department may require current Photo ID, perhaps even two forms of ID. Whether required by applicable law or bank policy, if you don’t have Photo ID, your efforts to engage in estate planning, Medicaid planning, and general banking activities can be curtailed.
  2. Real Estate Transactions. Seniors may wish to downsize by selling their current home or may wish to purchase a new home that is better suited to in-home caregiving. You can be certain that the senior’s Photo ID will be requested at some point during the process of selling or buying a home. Be prepared at the real estate closing by having current and valid Photo ID.
  3. Notary Public. Many forms need to be notarized these days, and a Notary Public may request current Photo ID before notarizing a document.
  4. Application for Medicaid Benefits. Photo identification is requested during the Medicaid application process. The PA Department of Human Services is pretty flexible when it comes to documenting identification, but it is still a good idea to have a current Photo ID.
  5. Gathering Supporting Documentation for a Medicaid Application. The lack of Photo ID can be a problem in the effort to gather verification in the Medicaid application process. Sometimes notarized letters need to be sent to financial institutions or other third parties requesting documentation. The lack of Photo ID can delay the notarization of necessary document requests and bring the Medicaid application process to a standstill. Any delay in the authorization of Medicaid benefits can be a most stressful situation.
  6. Safe Deposit Box. Sometimes a banker will recognize their client, but still require Photo ID to enter or close a safe deposit box.
  7. Travel. Sometimes there could be a need for the senior to relocate, perhaps to fly across the country to be with another child for caregiving reasons. Without current Photo ID it’s going to be a problem getting mom or dad on the plane.
  8. Verifying Date of Birth. If you don’t have your birth certificate, a driver’s license or Photo ID card is one of the few ways many people have to verify their date of birth. Verifying date of birth is required in the Medicaid application process. A replacement birth certificate or documentation from Social Security can be obtained, but these two options take time.
  9. Medical Purposes. Doctor’s offices and hospitals increasingly ask for photo identification, and picking up medications at the pharmacy can also sometimes require Photo ID.
  10. Medicaid Planning with Medicaid Qualifying Annuity. Sometimes in a Medicaid planning situation it is advisable to purchase a Medicaid Qualifying Annuity. Financial institutions selling annuities always request Photo ID. Without valid Photo ID the implementation of a Medicaid plan involving a Medicaid Qualifying Spousal Annuity or other Deficit Reduction Act Compliant Annuity could be delayed, causing stress for all involved and potentially resulting in additional payments being due to a nursing facility.

Keeping photo identification current for a senior is one of those things that may not seem that important, but suddenly becomes urgent when the need arises. We recommend that seniors maintain valid Pennsylvania Photo ID at all times. Doing so will help make sure they and their caregivers avoid several stressful situations that can arise unexpectedly in the absence of a valid Photo ID.

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