you recently marry or divorce?
All newlyweds and divorcees must file Form SS-5 for a new Social
Security card to avoid problems with the Internal Revenue Service and
Have you recently married or divorced? If so, have you taken the
name of your spouse, adopted a hyphenated version of a combined name,
or reverted back to your maiden name? If you have done any name
changes, you are required to file Form SS-5, Application for a Social
Security Card at your local SSA office in order to avoid any problems
filing your tax return.
When recent newlyweds or divorcees file a tax return using their new
last names, IRS computers can’t match the new name with their Social
Security Number. Consequently, in order to process your tax
return without delay, problems, and endless follow up notices from the
Internal Revenue Service, you must notify the Social Security
Administration of your name change. Otherwise, your earnings may
not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the Social
Security you are due. Not changing your name with Social Security also
can delay your income tax refund!
You can get Form SS-5 by downloading it on the Social Security
Administration’s website, by visiting any Social Security office or by
calling Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.
To change your name on your Social Security card you must provide
documents to prove your identity, support the requested change, and
establish the reason for the change. A document supporting a name
change must be recent and identify you by both your old and new names.
If the name change event occurred over two years ago or if the name
change document does not have enough information to prove your
identity, you must also provide documents to prove your identity in
your prior name and/or in some cases your new legal name. Generally,
documents without an expiration date should have been issued within the
past two years. If you were born outside the U.S. you must
provide a document to prove your U.S. citizenship or current lawful,
Documents Social Security may accept to prove a legal name change
If the document you provide for a legal name change does not give
enough information to identify you or if you legally changed your name
more than two years ago, then you also must submit to the Social
Security Administration two identity documents including:
- Marriage document;
- Divorce decree;
- Certificate of Naturalization showing a new name; or
- Court order for a name change.
In addition to your name, these documents also must contain identifying
information or a recent photograph.
- One document in your old name; and
- A second document with your new legal name.
As further proof of your identity, you may be required to provide a
U.S. driver’s license or U.S. passport.
If you do not have one of these documents, the Social Security
Administration may accept
other documents that show your legal name and biographical information,
such as a U.S. military identity card, Certificate of Naturalization,
employee identity card, certified copy of medical record (clinic,
doctor or hospital), health insurance card, Medicaid card, or school
identity card/record. It will not accept a birth certificate, a
hospital souvenir birth certificate, a social security card stub, or a
social security record as evidence of identity.
If you are a U.S. citizen born outside the United States and Social
Security's records do not show you are a citizen, you will need to
provide proof of your U.S. citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen,
Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents.
Only original documents will be accepted by Social Security.
Notarized copies or photocopies which have not been certified by the
custodian of the record are not acceptable. Social Security will return
any documents submitted with your application. Consequently, it
is strongly advisable to take these documents, rather than mail them,
to your local Social Security office.
Form SS-5 requires the following information:
Failure to provide all of the requested, correct information may result
in you not being issued a new Social Security card. The new card
will have the same number as your previous card, but will show your new
- Your new name;
- Birth name;
- Place of birth;
- Date of birth;
- Mother's birth name and social security number;
- Father's birth name and social security number;
- Name on previous Social Security card;
- Your contact information;
- Your signature.
Since the documentation requirements become more rigorous after two
years, it is recommended that you obtain the new card as soon as
possible. As with any governmental agency, processing what you
contemplate to be a simple request might involve a lengthy search for
acceptable documentation and more than one trip to your local Social
Security office. However, if you provide all requisite documents
at your local Social Security office, it may be able to verify them
online with the Department of Homeland Security and process your
request for a name change quickly. On the other hand, if your
documents cannot be verified online or if you should mail Form SS-5
with all accompanying documents to a Social Security office, it may
take at least several weeks to receive your new card. Normal
processing time is two to three weeks.
This article is provided for informational purposes and is
not intended to be construed as legal, accounting, or other
professional advice. For further information, please consult
professional advice from your attorney and certified public
Have a tax or an accounting question? Please feel free to submit
it to William Brighenti,
Accountant, Hartford CPA Accountants. For information
and assistance on
any tax and accounting issue, please visit our website, Accountants CPA
Hartford, and our blog, Accounting and Taxes
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