How to Change the Name on Your Social Security Card

How to Change the Name on Your Social Security Card

by Roberta Codemo, August 2017

The process to change the name on your Social Security card is quite straightforward. You must:

  • Provide proof of your identity
  • Complete and print an Application for a Social Security Card
  • Mail or hand-deliver the application and supporting documentation to your local Social Security office

Once the application is processed, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will issue you a new Social Security card under your new name. Please note that your Social Security number will not change.

Originally created to track the earnings history of employees for use in administering benefits, the SSA-issued Social Security number is used as a universal identifier. The nine-digit number lets government agencies identify and compile information about you.

When you change the name on your Social Security card — whether through marriage, divorce, court order, or another reason — you need to contact the SSA to receive a corrected card. Failure to do so could stop your wages from being assigned to your earnings record or delay processing of future income tax refunds.

Individuals often ask, how long does it take to change your name on a Social Security card? The answer depends on the backlog at the SSA. Normally, it takes two to six weeks for the SSA to mail your new card, along with returning any supporting documentation. For this reason, don't wait to initiate the process.

Do note that if you are filing an application for someone else, you will also have to provide proof of your identity, as well as showing your relationship to that person.

Citizenship Documents

You will need to verify your current U.S. citizenship or lawful non-citizen status, if you haven't already done so. Acceptable documentation includes either a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport. The documents must be current and either be originals or certified copies from the issuing agency. The SSA will not accept photocopies, notarized copies, or a receipt that shows you have applied for the documents.

Can you apply for a Social Security card online? In rare cases, yes, but not in the case of a name change. If you're not requesting a Social Security name change and you are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older, with a U.S. mailing address, and you have a current driver's license or state-issued identification card from certain states, you may apply online.

Name Change Documents

You must submit proof of your legal name change to the SSA. Acceptable documentation includes:

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Divorce Decree
  • Court Order
  • Certificate of Naturalization

If the documents do not provide sufficient information for the SSA to identify you in its records, or your name change occurred more than two years ago (four, if you're under the age of 18), you must submit additional proof of your identity. The SSA will accept documentation in your prior name, as shown in its records, even if it's expired.

Please note that if you don't have an identity document in your prior name, the SSA will accept a current identity document with your new name on it, so long as it can establish your identity in its records.

Identity Documents

Acceptable identity documents include:

  • U.S. driver's license
  • State-issued identification card
  • U.S. passport

The document must be current and include your name, identifying information — such as date of birth — and a recent photograph.

If you don't have one of these documents, or cannot obtain a replacement one within 10 days, the SSA will accept the following:

  • Employee I.D. card
  • School I.D. card
  • Health insurance card other than a Medicare card
  • U.S. military I.D. card

Complete and Submit the Application

Once you've assembled the necessary paperwork, complete and print out the Application for a Social Security Card. Once it's ready, either mail or hand-deliver it to your local Social Security office, along with your supporting documents.

If you have questions about this process, there are businesses that will help you compile the necessary paperwork and submit the appropriate forms to your local Social Security office for a small fee.