How to Change Your Name with Social Security

There are three ways to request a name change on your card, and you can get a new card for free.
Whitney Vandiver
By Whitney Vandiver 
Updated
Edited by Tina Orem

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To change your name with Social Security, you need to provide proof of identity, proof of your name change and proof of citizenship. You can make the request online, fill out and mail a form or visit a local Social Security office.

What you need to change your name on your Social Security card

Proof of identity

Because a Social Security card is a legal record, you’ll need to show proof of your identity. This type of document or record should include identifying information, such as your date of birth. The SSA also prefers that the documentation includes a recent photograph. You can use a

Social Security Administration. Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card. Accessed Feb 1, 2024.
:

  • U.S. driver’s license.

  • U.S. passport.

  • Nondriver ID card issued by your state.

If you don’t have any of those records available or can't get a replacement within 10 days, you can ask to use a different form of ID, such as one issued by your school or employer, a health insurance card or a military ID.

Did you know...

Records must be certified original documents or copies. In most cases you can't provide expired documentation, and photocopies won't work.

Proof of name change

You’ll need to prove to the SSA that you have legally changed your name. To do so, provide documentation that shows why you’re changing your name, such as a:

  • Marriage license.

  • Divorce decree.

  • Court order showing the approved name change.

  • Certificate of naturalization with the new name.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you changed your name on other documentation more than two years ago, you’ll need to provide records that use your previous name. People under 18 years of age have a grace period of four years before this requirement kicks in.

Proof of citizenship

If you haven’t provided proof of citizenship to the SSA before, you’ll need to provide documentation showing your citizenship status. You can use a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport.

A graphic with a light green background and dark green circles. Each of the three circles has a category of documentation that an applicant needs. Beside each circle is a list of documents that are accepted by the SSA in that category.

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How to update your Social Security card

There are three ways to submit a request to change your name on your Social Security card. All three use the same application.

1. Submit a request online

You can submit a request online to change your name on your Social Security card if you’re at least 18 years old and have a U.S. mailing address

. The online system walks you through the process by asking you one question at a time and alerting you if any of your answers requires you to apply in person.

Once you’ve submitted your request online, you’ll need to provide proof of identity. This must be done in person at either an SSA office or a Social Security card center within 45 days of submitting your application.

To request a name change online:

  1. Select the “Apply Now” button.

  2. Read the Privacy Act Statement, and select the “Next” button.

  3. Answer the required questions, which are followed by a red asterisk. Select the “Next” button to submit your answers and move to each new question.

  4. The questions regarding race and ethnicity are optional and don’t affect your application being approved.

  5. For documentation, choose the types of records you plan to provide and fill out the appropriate information for each one.

  6. The next page provides a summary of your information. Review it and make edits as needed. If everything looks good, select the “Next” button.

  7. On the final page, read the information and check the box to show that you understand how to submit your documentation. Once you’ve checked the box, select the “Submit Application Package” button. Your application won’t be submitted online if you skip this step.

  8. Gather the necessary documentation to prove your identity and name change.

  9. Take the documentation to an SSA office within 45 days to complete your application.

Printing out the application

If you prefer to fill out a traditional form or can’t complete the online application, you can download the application and do it offline. To do this:

  1. Download the “Application for a Social Security Card” form from the SSA website.

  2. Decide how you want to fill it out: Download it and fill it out on a computer before printing it, or print it first and fill it out by hand. Instructions for how to complete the form are on page 3 of the document.

  3. Gather the necessary documentation to prove your identity and name change.

  4. Either mail the packet to an SSA office or go in person to submit your application and documentation

    Social Security Administration. Application for a Social Security Card. Accessed Feb 1, 2024.
    .

While the agency will return any records you send, consider using certified copies to avoid losing an original document if your packet is lost.

Visiting a local SSA office

You can complete the entire process in person at an SSA office if you’d prefer to have someone help you. But the SSA warns that some offices might be too busy to see you the same day, and you may need to schedule an appointment

SSA.gov. Social Security Office Locator. Accessed Aug 7, 2023.
. You can search for the nearest office at SSA.gov.

To make the process as easy as possible:

  1. Get the necessary documentation together to prove your identity and name change.

  2. Locate the nearest SSA office.

  3. Call the SSA office to find out if you need an appointment and to learn what the average wait time is.

  4. Take your documentation to the SSA office and fill out an application in person when someone is able to see you.

Reasons to change your name on your Social Security card

You need to keep the SSA up to date if you change your name for any reason. The following are reasons you’re likely to need a new name on your Social Security card.

  • You got married and took your spouse’s last name or created a hyphenated name as a couple.

  • You got divorced and want to go back to your previous name.

  • You’ve been adopted.

  • You don’t want to be associated with your birth or family name for personal reasons.

  • You now identify yourself with a new name. For example, you transitioned and now identify as a different gender than what was assigned at birth.

  • You had to amend or correct your birth certificate.

  • You recently became a U.S. citizen.

Pros and cons of changing your name on your Social Security card

The benefits of changing the name on your Social Security card include:

  • Your government and nongovernment records will match to avoid issues with proving your identity in the future.

  • Government agencies will have the same name on file, which can avoid issues such as your tax refund being delayed

    .

  • Your Social Security contributions will be correctly reported in your new name to let you claim them later.

But there are a few downsides to changing your name on your Social Security card:

Getting help with updating your Social Security card

If you have trouble completing the application, you can call the SSA at 800-772-1213 and tell them you need help replacing your Social Security card. Its office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you’re hard of hearing or deaf, you can call the SSA at TTY 800-325-0778 for assistance.

Frequently asked questions

The SSA estimates that it takes up to an hour to complete the application, but it will take up to 14 days for your application to be processed and to receive your new card in the mail.

No, your Social Security number will be the same after you change your name.

You’ll need to notify some local and federal agencies to ensure your records match. You can find a list of recommended agencies at usa.gov.

As long as you update your name with the SSA by requesting a new card, you should continue to receive benefits. If you want to be certain that you’ve done everything correctly, contact an SSA office.

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