Do you need to get your name changed on your Social Security card if you get married? This is a very common question facing those that get married. In short, it honestly varies. If you’re not getting your name changed, then you probably don’t have to worry about it. If you are changing your name, then chances are good that you will have to change your card. Keep reading to learn more about all of this.
Before you’re able to do a lot to change your name, it’s necessary for you to go through the process of getting your name changed with the Social Security Administration. Your Social Security card might be necessary for processing other name changes, such as your bank or the DMV, without much stress or hassle. So, if you need to do this, how do you do so as easily as possible?
You’ll have to start with an SS-5 application. This form is freely available through the Social Security Administration. The process of changing your Social Security card name will begin here. You can either fill out the form online and submit it through websites that have it, or you can print out a paper copy and then mail it in or take it in person to your closest Social Security office.
If you decide to mail it in or take it in person, you’ll need to have supporting documentation, such as your marriage certificate. It’s best to send in copies if you are able to do so, as you don’t want to put your only copy of a marriage certificate into the snail mail and trust it never gets hurt or lost. In any case, you’re going to have a wait ahead of you. Going through the mail often means two weeks to two months before you get your new Social Security card. The depth of the SSA queue varies depending on what time of year it is, but if it’s wedding season, they might have a lot of work while they also have a lot of people on vacation.
If you don’t want to wait that long, then you can visit your closest Social Security office. Going the mailing route will take longer on a calendar but save you the most personal time. However, if you have a free day and need or want your card faster, visit the office in person. You’ll still have to wait on your permanent card in the mail, but you’ll at least get a temporary card right away that you can use at the DMV, bank, and any other places that need an updated card.
You might cringe at this thought, though, if you’ve ever heard what a nightmare visiting a Social Security office is like. Remember, if these are documents the DMV needs, and you know how slow the DMV can be, then this can be even worse. Fortunately, things don’t have to be that way, particularly if you’re prepared.
The first thing to do is making sure that you have all of the appropriate forms filled out. The biggest one is the primary SSA form called Application for a Social Security Card. If you use that for a name change, then you don’t have to stress over using older forms or even wrong forms. You might even want to avoid signing or dating it until you get there. If you’re going to visit in person, then it works out better to apply your signature at the time you’re standing in front of a clerk that is working on your personal application. That way, he or she can actually witness the act.
The second document that you’re going to need is a copy of your marriage certificate. Keep in mind that this is different in most states from your marriage license. A marriage license is typically the document you got before you actually got married, and it was what gave you the legal authorization for the two of you to get married. On the other hand, you also need to make sure that the copy is certified. You can’t just run a photocopy. You have to take in an authentic and certified copy.
Keep in mind that this is general advice as things change from state to state. In some counties and states, a marriage certificate and license are the same thing. In others, they actually correspond to one another instead of being different documents, like a caterpillar that morphs into a butterfly.
You’ll also need documents that prove your identity. That can be a state-issued ID, a passport, or even alternative and secondary documents such as Medicaid or health insurance cards. Military IDs sometimes work, but call ahead to find out. Citizenship can be verified using a passport or birth certificate. Non-citizens will have to provide acceptable proof of their immigration status.
In summary, just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you have to update your Social Security card, as marriage doesn’t impact it directly. However, if your marriage is going to mean you’re changing your name, then you probably do need to change it. If you have any questions or need to be sure, contact the SSA to find out for certain.
Interestingly, if you find yourself wondering if you need to change the name on your Social Security card following a divorce, then the answer and process is much the same. If your name isn’t changing with your marital status, then you don’t really need to update your card. On the other hand, if your name is changing, then yes, you would have to get an updated or new Social Security card. The process is roughly the same, except you’d need a copy of your divorce decree or annulment instead of the marriage certificate.
In most cases, this burden is more likely to fall on women, both in cases of marriage and divorce. It’s not always true though, as some men choose to take their wife’s last name. Other couples also choose new last names together.