By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Sept. 24, 2021) -- The Defense Department is asking as many as a half-million ID card holders to go online now and make appointments to renew their IDs -- many of which are past the expiration dates printed on them.
DOD extended the expiration dates electronically to account for the challenges of renewing them in an COVID-19 environment.
Last year when it became apparent that COVID-19 was going to dramatically affect the ability of individuals to congregate or wait in line at ID card offices, the Defense Department electronically extended the expiration dates for many ID cards for several months to allow cardholders a greater amount of time to get those cards renewed.
The extensions primarily benefited the dependents of active-duty service members, Reserve and National Guard service members and their dependents, as well as retirees and their dependents.
Currently, there's a backlog of more than a half-million people who have ID cards that are past the expiration dates printed on them, and it's time to go online and schedule an appointment to get those cards renewed, said Stephen Wellock with the Defense Manpower Data Center.
Right now, the previously extended ID cards for dependents of active duty service members, as well as Reserve and National Guard service members and their dependents, can be used until Oct. 31, 2021. The cards of retirees and their dependents can be used until Jan. 31, 2022.
But Wellock also said some might not have the time they think they have.
For those service members and their dependents and retirees and their dependents whose ID cards expired after July 31, 2021 -- there is no extension.
"You have no extension, your ID card is expired," he said. "You need to get it replaced, for both active duty, Guard and Reserve dependents, and for retirees. So, if a service member's dependent is out there, and their ID card expired on Sept. 7, they don't have until October to get it replaced; their ID card has expired, and they need to make an appointment as soon as possible."
While some family members may have an expired ID card, Wellock said that just because an ID card expires doesn't mean health benefits expire. Those benefits are managed by a different system, he said.
"Their health care is managed by the fact that they're enrolled in DEERS, in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. That's what determines their eligibility for health care. So if somebody's ID card expires on Aug. 7, they don't automatically lose their health care because their card is expired."
An additional change is that while currently cards were previously issued to dependents as young as 10 years old, going forward, cards will only be issued to those dependents who are 14 or older.
Wellock said the department is not planning any further extensions on the renewal of expired ID cards. He said cardholders should begin scheduling appointments now to get their cards renewed. Appointments can be made online to renew ID cards, he said, and cardholders don't need to limit their appointment to the card office they typically visit -- there are many locations that can handle renewals, and many provide a "walk-in" service capability. The DOD ID card facilities are managed and operated by the local installations, so if service members are having difficulty making appointments, they should inform their chain of command.