General, Online Services, Social Security Number and Card, SSI

Getting Married Soon? Give Social Security Your New Name

June 2, 2016 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

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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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Comments

  1. Jacqueline R.

    Hello my name is Jacqueline Ramirez and I married with Jose Peralta . In my marriage certificate I decide to keep my last name Ramirez.I received my EAD card with my name Jacqueline Ramirez . Now I have decided to use the last name of my spouse “peralta” when I process my social security card for first time .My question is do I need to change it in my marriage certificate the option that I did? Or just like it is ? I want to make sure before I go to the social security office . Thank you so much for your valuable time and God bless you

  2. Sharon

    Say I’m a woman named Sharon Ann Smith
    I am going to marry a man named Carl Ray Jones
    We get married and both go to Social Security Administration

    Are all of the following name change options allowed at SSA?

    1. Sharon Ann Smith-Jones and Carl Ray Smith-Jones
    2. Sharon Ann Smith Jones and Carl Ray Smith Jones (i.e., both added “Smith” as a second middle name)
    3. Sharon Smith Jones and Carl Smith Jones (i.e., both replaced original middle name with “Smith”)
    4. Sharon Ann Smith (no change) and Carl Ray Smith

    In other words, do the rules differ for men vs. women in opposite-sex marriages?

    • Ray F.

      Thanks for your question Sharon! You can show whichever name you would like on your Social Security card as long as you have evidence of your legal name change. In order to change your name on your card, you must show us a document that proves your legal name change. You could also use two documents: a document showing your old name (as shown in our records), and a document showing your new name. Any documents you submit, must be an original or certified copy, current (not expired) and show your name, and other identifying information (date of birth or age). To learn more on the process and what documents you will need to get a card Please visit our “New or Replacement Social Security Number and Card” web page. We hope this helps!

  3. Mike

    Thank You for great article ]]
    http://www.jomhoneymoon.com

  4. Kim

    Im 53 and getting married, I can still collect my social security later in life fully right? I do not get any SSI or other, I work full time and have since the age of 15.

    • Ray F.

      Yes Kim, the earliest age you can apply for retirement benefits is 62. You can create a My Social Security account to review your earnings record and get an estimate of your future benefits. If you have specific questions, you can call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for assistance. Thanks!

  5. Maritza

    I recently got married. I went to social security to change my last name. My husband has two last names, first his father’s, last his mother’s. He goes by his father’s, so I had put in the paperwork that I would take his father’s as my last also. I was told that I can not do this. I was told that I had to take his mother’s last name because it came last. I have never heard of this before. I know many couples who have successfully done this name change before. As a Hispanic woman this is very disturbing to me. He said the law was changed by homeland security two weeks ago and that they control how names are on the cards. Is this possibly true?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Maritza. For Social Security enumeration purposes, your first and last name shown on your SSN card must agree with the first and last name shown on the document submitted as evidence of identity or legal name. A foreign-born person’s legal name is the name shown on his or her immigration document (includes hyphens and apostrophes). When issuing immigration documents, the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security generally issue them in the person’s legal name. In addition, there is a 26-character limit for your first, middle name(s) and the last name and suffix, if any. Please continue working with your local office for further assistance in this matter. Thanks.

      • Maritza

        Right I understand that, but if he has two last names, which is shown on our marriage certificate and all other documents as his last names, his father’s is the first of the two. Can I take the first of the two? That is the tradition and would be under the 26 character limit.

        • Ray F.

          Please continue working with your local office or card center for further assistance in this matter.

  6. Dean @.

    Thank you for your post.But I am expecting the topic to elaborate more for clear concept about SSI.

  7. Jeanne

    I was recently told by a friend that 6 years ago, she had to change her name to her husband’s name in order to qualify for his ssa benefits after his death. My name is different than my husband’s, so I am concerned. This seems like an archaic rule and I wonder if it is still in effect today? Thank you!

    • Ray F.

      Thanks for your questions Jeanne. Generally, when applying for survivor’s benefits, and to establish your eligibility, we may ask you to provide documents such as: Proof of the worker’s death; marriage certificate or a final divorce decree, if applying as a surviving divorced spouse. Visit our Survivors Planner: If You Are The Worker’s Widow Or Widower for the correct information.

      • Jeanne

        Thank you for your prompt response, Mr. Fernandez. I visited the site you suggested and found useful information regarding ages and their corresponding survivor’s benefits, but my question is still not answered. Would I be denied otherwise qualified benefits if my last name is different from my husband’s? Thank you!

        • Ray F.

          No Jeanne, as long as you meet all the eligibility requirements, you will not be denied benefits if your last name is different from your husband’s. Sometimes, our system will require us to make corrections when processing a claim. This may have been the case with your friend. Thanks.

  8. Tiffany

    I am getting married and my fiancé collects SSI. By changing my last name or getting married in general ,will it effect his ssi and by how much? Also , he has sickle cell anemia, is he eligible for SSD too ?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Tiffany. To qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) program, individuals must have enough credits and be “currently insured”. This means, individuals must have worked long enough–and recently enough—under Social Security. If someone is receiving disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income or SSI program, getting married may affect their benefits. This is because the amount of SSI benefit is based, in part, on the income and resources available to the individual receiving SSI benefits and the income and resources of his or her spouse. It is still possible that married individuals can continue to receive their SSI benefits after we conduct a “Redetermination”. For further assistance, please contact your local office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  9. Elizabeth W.

    I am on ssa and Medicare. I was wondering if I get married, would it affect my Medicare?

    • Ann C.

      Getting married has no effect on the Medicare benefits that an individual receives. Medicare is an individual plan and there is no family plan. However, the cost of your premiums may change because of your total household income. Please visit http://www.medicare.gov for more information. Thanks for your question, Elizabeth.

  10. Krista

    Is there a way to check on the progress of a name change being processed? Because of the incredibly long wait times (even with an appointment) and the fact that the office in my area is open 9-4 when I work 8-5, I was forced to mail in my application. I am wondering if my paperwork has been processed yet.

    Thank you.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Krista. Typically, after we receive your application and verify your documents, we then process your request for a replacement Social Security card. After we process your request, you should receive your replacement Social Security card by mail within 10 business days. You can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for a follow up. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

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