Updating your name with the Social Security Administration is a crucial step after receiving a legal name change. Social Security is considered an anchor ID among other government and financial agencies. Aligning your Social Security card and records to your updated legal name ensures consistency across your finances and identity.
While it may require submitting forms and documents in person, the process is becoming more modernized and you may be able to update your Social Security name change online. Here is a step-by-step guide to changing your name on your Social Security records:
You will need some or all of the following documents to change your name with the SSA:
- Original certified court order or marriage certificate showing your legal name change. Photocopies are not accepted.
- Valid U.S. passport or current driver’s license as proof of identification and citizenship status.
- Current Social Security card showing your old name.
- Completed SS-5 form to apply for an updated card.
- Second form of ID like a military government issued picture ID card in your old name, if required.
Having these documents ready in advance prevents delays or complications applying in person.
Complete SS-5 Application
The SS-5 form is the Social Security Administration’s official application for replacement cards. It requires providing personal information like birthdate, contact details, citizenship status, and your new name to be shown on the updated card.
Fill in the form completely as possible and accurately to reflect your new legal name change. Follow all instructions carefully and sign the form. Mistakes or missing information may cause delays.
If also requesting to update your gender designation with the Social Security Administration, complete additional form SS-5-FS for outside of US application.
Schedule an Appointment - Drop in
Many Social Security offices now allow in-person appointments or may require scheduling an appointment online or over the phone to visit and submit name change requests. Even if completing your request online, you may need to bring your ID and Certified name change document to a social security office for authentication. When booking:
- Verify what documents to bring. Double check all items are complete.
- Allow plenty of time for security screenings when selecting a time.
- Provide any requested contact information so you can be notified of appointment changes.
- Take note of the location address and office number.
- Bring application confirmations or appointment notices provided.
- Arriving promptly for pre-scheduled appointments prevents wasting valuable time you secured.
Attending Your Appointment
During your visit, be prepared to:
- Pass through security to enter offices. Leave prohibited items secured.
- Expect COVID-19 precautions like distancing and mask requirements.
- Submit original documents like court order, marriage certificate, naturalization certificate, completed SS-5, photo IDs. Keep photocopies handy as backup.
- Answer any clarifying questions the SSA representative may have about your name change details and application.
- Double check all information entered into your SSA record during the appointment. It’s easier to correct an error before you leave the office than after you get home.
- Receive SSA verification forms documenting your visit and application submission.
Remaining patient and cooperative facilitates speedy processing of your request.
Await New Social Security Card
Once successfully submitted, your name change application takes around 2 weeks processing time. You should receive your new Social Security card reflecting your updated legal name via mail shortly after the two week mark.
Safeguard your new card when it arrives. Keep any old Social Security cards bearing your previous name very securely to avoid confusion or potential identity fraud.
Additionally, notify employers so they can issue your paychecks and submit your tax withholding documentation in your correct new name with your same social security number properly going forward.
You’ll also need to file your next tax return using your new name and provide any supplemental name change documentation requested. Hopefully, your next tax return will be sent to you with your new name already on it.
Changing your name with Social Security bodes well for the rest of the process. Remember to bring certified documents, particularly your name change document, complete forms carefully, follow appointment guidelines, and remain patient as you officially adopt your new name across all federal identification.