Basic Facts About Social Security|
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One of the most common chores you may have with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a Social Security card name change. In most cases, the change will be prompted by your marriage; or, you may wish to revert to your original surname if you’ve divorced, or you may have some other reason for a legal name change. In any event, you will need to inform the SSA and get a new card.
Standard Documents Required
The process involves gathering the appropriate documents and submitting them to the SSA. First, you will need the document indicating your legal name change. This might be a marriage certificate or divorce document. Please note that the SSA accepts only originals or certified copies of such documents; a photocopy, even if notarized, will not suffice. If you don’t have the document, you can request a certified original from the state or county recorder where the event took place. If you’re not sure, a Social Security Administration staff member can help you.
Additional Documents Required
Or, if you have changed your name as a result of naturalization in the United States or gaining citizenship — perhaps Anglicizing your name for the sake of convenience — you will need an original copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. If you’ve changed your name because of a court order, again, only an original or certified copy of the court order is acceptable.
Additionally, you will need to present a form of personal identification. The most common documents would be a U.S. driver’s license, a U.S. state-issued non-driver identification card; or a U.S. passport. If you don’t have any of these documents, the SSA may ask to see any of the following: an employee identification card; U.S. military identification; a Certificate of Naturalization or of Citizenship; a life insurance policy; a health insurance card (excluding Medicare); a U.S. government identification card; a school identity card or transcript; a life insurance form; or some other document. Again, a staff member will help you find a document that will serve for identification purposes.
Proving US Citizenship
You may also be asked to present documents showing U.S. citizenship. These might include a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, or Certificate of Naturalization or of Citizenship. Your proof of citizenship document may double up as your primary document of personal identification — a passport, for instance.
Noncitizens will be asked to present a Form I-551 (permanent resident card) with an unexpired foreign passport; a Form I-94 (arrival/departure record) with an unexpired foreign passport; or an I-766 work permit issued by the Department of Homeland Security. If you are a student with an F-1 or M-1 visa, you must show a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status). Visitors with J-1 or J-2 exchange visas must present a Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status). Additional information may be required; be sure to check with an SSA case worker.
Finally, you will need to fill out a Form SS-5, application for new Social Security card. You can download this form at the SSA’s website, or pick up a blank form at your local SSA service center.
Because this is such a document-heavy procedure, it’s usually best to visit your local Social Security Administration service center; there are about 1,300 centers across the United States, so there’s bound to be one within an easy drive of your location. Find the SSA office locator at the agency’s website (www.ssa.gov), plug in your zip code, and the nearest office will be indicated.
A Social Security Card name change is a straightforward procedure, but you need to pay attention to the details. If you need your new card by a certain time, don’t wait until the last minute; it can take up to ten business days to get your new card.