Getting Married Soon? Give Social Security Your New Name

Wedding-SeasonEvery year, June marks the beginning of two busy seasons: summer and “wedding season.” With joyful expectation, many of us have already marked our calendars and started wrapping up our plans for the vacations, ceremonies, and honeymoons. While the betrothed work out the details, Social Security wants to remind them about one detail that’s extremely important: the “record” Social Security keeps of your life’s earnings.

For many people, a wedding often means a name change is in order. If you are legally changing your name, you need to apply for a replacement Social Security card reflecting your new name. If you’re working, also tell your employer. That way, Social Security can keep track of your earnings history as you go about living your wonderful new life.

If you have reported income under your former or maiden name, and didn’t inform us of a change, we might not have received an accurate W-2 and your earnings may have been recorded incorrectly. This is easier to fix now — when you first change your name — than years from now when you retire, when it may cause delays in receiving your benefits. This is important because we base your future benefits on your earnings record. So, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber, or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), to find out what specific documents you need to change your name and to apply for a replacement card.

Last year, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry regardless of where they live within the United States. As a result, Social Security recognizes more same-sex couples as married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. We recently updated instructions for employees to process claims and appeals when a determination of marital status is necessary.

With these changing rules, we encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for benefits to apply now. You can learn more about our policies for same-sex couples at www.ssa.gov/people/same-sexcouples.

After the honeymoon, you can focus on your career or starting a family, moving to a new home, and securing a well-deserved retirement. Now, you’re all set. Let the celebrations begin!

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265 thoughts on “Getting Married Soon? Give Social Security Your New Name

  1. Is there a time limit in which I’m able to change my name after marriage? I went to my local Social Security office 2.5 years after I got married to change my name. I brought my form and certified marriage certificate. I was turned away and told that I could not use my marriage certificate anymore because it exceeded a 2 year limit to do so. I was also told that I would need to provide a court order instead. However, I researched and found that Illinois will not issue a court order for name change if I already have a certified marriage certificate proving as such. Please advise.

  2. i got married and changed my last name to my husbands last name.i cant find the paperwork showing prof of it.how can i get a copy of the documentaion showing it?

    • If you have a certified copy of your marriage license, that is enough proof to have your last name change. SSA only need to see the certified marriage certificate to change the name on your social security card. Once your get your SS card with the new last name, you can apply for your driver’s license. Once your get those, you can update everything else without any issues 🙂 Hope that helps.

  3. Does the social security office keep the original copy of the marriage certificate or do I simply need to show it to them when I go in to submit the application in person?

    • Hi Atira, thank you for your question. All documents that you submit must be either originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. Any documents that you provide will be returned to you. To learn more on the Social Security replacement card process, please visit our “Social Security Number and Card” web page.

  4. My significant other is 72 and retired and receiving his social security benefits. I am 64 and still gainfully employed. We are considering marriage. Giving our situation will both of us be entitled to spousal benefits at death if we get married?

    • Hi Cheree, thank you for your question. The amount of a widow(er)s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of the person who died, when the deceased worker started receiving their benefits, your age at the time of your spouse’s death, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit at the time of your spouse’s passing, you would be eligible for survivor benefits.

      Typically, a widow or widower at full (survivors) retirement age or older generally receives 100% of the deceased worker’s amount, a widow or widower under full retirement age receives about 71 to 99 percent of the worker’s benefit amount, and a widow or widower with a child younger than age 16 receives 75 percent of the worker’s benefit amount. For more information about how much your benefit would be, visit our Survivors Planner.

  5. Due to the COVID19, all the SSA are closed. How do I go about requesting a name change due to marriage on my social security card? Is it something we can submit online and scanned the marriage certificate in? I know normally original documents are required. What are the process now? I’m in Arizona. Thank you for your help.

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