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A Guide To Name Change Social Security In 2021

  • April 23, 2021

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Sometimes, change is inevitable, and it's upon you to adopt to whatever situation that comes with it. For instance, getting married involves a lot of social and economic adjustments. The same occurs when you get divorced. For one, you might need to change your names in all legal documents to reflect your current status.

Inasmuch as it may sound simple, the process isn't as straightforward as one would like. Of course, you'd expect it to be quite complicated because it involves a lot of legal procedures and maybe court sessions where necessary. So, what are the steps to be followed when changing the name on a social security card? Read on to learn more!

Gather All The Necessary Documents

As this is a crucial procedure that can affect the lives of many people – not just yours - it's imperative that all facts are collected carefully. As such, the first thing that you should do is to gather all the necessary documents. These will include, but not be limited to, proof of your identity, proof of your citizenship, and proof of name change. Let's have a look at each of them:

Proof of identity

Obviously, any legal body would like to know who they're dealing with. Identification documents may include an identification card, driver's license, or a passport. If you don't have these with you, then you can also use your employment ID, health insurance card, or a military ID.

Proof of citizenship

Once your official names are known, you must also prove that you're a U.S. citizen. The citizenship is considered legal when you provide your birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, certificate of naturalization, or a U.S. consular report of birth outside the country. With any or some of these available, you're set for the next step.

The legality of your new name

The onus is on you to prove that your new name is official and that all the legal procedures were followed during the changes. Depending on your situation, you can provide a marriage certificate, divorce certificate, certificate of naturalization, or the relevant court order.

Do you have everything ready? It's time to move on to the application process. 

Fill Form SS-5

There's no legal process that doesn't involve documentations and form completion. Whether you're applying for a temporary social security card or a permanent one, you'll need to fill form SS-5. Visit the relevant government offices with a filled form attached with all the documents mentioned above. Alternatively, you can download the form, fill and sign it, then mail it to the responsible offices. 

Not sure where to find the nearest SSA office? You can use the SSA office locator then decide whether to mail your documents or visit the office physically. As original documents are needed during the process, it would be a good idea to visit the place so that you can go back with your sensitive documents rather than having to wait for them to be mailed back.

Another benefit is the fact that you'll receive a receipt immediately confirming the changes. As such, you may move on to other steps as soon as you can. However, mailing your documents means you may need to wait up to two weeks for the process to be completed. So, plan your schedule and see which of the two options appeals to you. 

Patience Is Key

If you decide to mail your documents, then you have no option but to wait till the process is done. During this time, don't apply for a name change in any other organization until you receive confirmation from SSA offices. 

If you submitted the documents physically, then it can take up to 48 hours for the changes to be reflected in the database. However, if you're compelled to make changes elsewhere before receiving your card then you can use the receipt. While waiting for the process to be finalized, you can consider finding a financial advisor if you don't have one already. The reason is, these changes may have a direct impact on your economic life, especially if it was due to a divorce. 


Changing your name officially means you also need to make adjustments in various government and private offices. The first place you should start is the SSA office, where you can replace your social security name with the current one. You'll start by gathering all the necessary documents that prove your identity, citizenship, and the new official name. Next, you'll need to fill a form that will then be submitted together with the rest of the documents. Of course, delivering the documents by yourself will definitely make the process move faster as opposed to mailing them. During this time, it's recommended that you don't apply for a name change elsewhere unless it's urgent.