It’s imperative that you let the Social Security Administration know whenever you change your name. Without your correct, current information on file, the SSA can’t keep track of the benefits that you’re owed. Luckily, if you’ve previously changed your name with the SSA, you’re already familiar with the process that’s required to revert back to your original name.
Important Facts to Know
Most people who alert SSA to a name change do so because they’ve gotten divorced and want to go back to using their maiden name, although some people make this choice for other reasons. In any case, you can’t move forward with requesting a reversal with the SSA until you’ve legally changed your name with the courts in your state.
Changing your name with the SSA is a free service. While residents of some states can apply for new Social Security cards online, no one can request a name change online. You’ll have to visit your local Social Security office or submit your documents by mail.
The Name Change Process
Applying for a name change won’t change your Social Security number. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a new Social Security card with your corrected name and the same number you’ve always had. The process is a fairly simple one.
Fill out the Application for a Social Security Card. It’s a simple questionnaire that asks for the name you’re requesting be shown on your Social Security card, as well as basic information such as your Social Security number, place of birth and contact information. Alternatively you can print it out from the SSA website or pick up a copy of the form at your local Social Security office.
Gather original documents that show you’ve legally changed your name. If you’re going back to your birth name after divorce, your divorce decree is the document you’ll need to provide. If your name change isn’t due to divorce, you’ll have to provide some other legal documentation, such as a court order approving the change.
Determine whether you need to also provide documents proving your identity and citizenship. The SSA only requires proof of your identity if your name change document doesn’t include enough information to identify you in their records, or if you changed your name more than two years ago. Just in case, you’ll want to show your state-issued identification card (like a driver’s license) or a passport issued in your previous name.
- Note that the SSA also requires proof of citizenship, like a U.S. birth certificate, only if you haven’t previously established your citizenship with them. But since you should already have a Social Security number and card, that won’t be necessary.
Submit your application and supporting documents. Use the SSA’s Social Security Office Locator to find the office closest to you. You don’t need to make an appointment to apply for your name change in person. If you decide to mail your application, your original documents will be returned to you.
It will take about 10 days after your application is processed to receive your new Social Security card. If you’re in a hurry to receive the new card, or if you’re concerned about your original documents being lost, you may want to apply for your name change in person at the SSA office rather than submitting your application by mail.
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