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Getting a new last name? (06/20/2007)
by Cherryl Kjos

Winona Social Security District Manager

June is the traditional month for weddings. Many women who get married " in June or any time during the year " change their name along with their marital status. Whether brides take the name of a husband or opt for hyphenation, there's something important they should do soon after the honeymoon.

People who change their names should make sure they notify Social Security of the new name.

This doesn't just apply to women who are getting married. It also could apply to a woman who officially changes her name following a divorce. And for that matter, it applies to anyone, man or woman, who changes his or her name for any reason.

The bottom line is that people should make sure that the name their employer is using to report earnings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security exactly matches the name in their Social Security records. If you've changed your name, the way to do that is to get a new Social Security card with the correct name, since the information on your most recent card is always the same as the information in Social Security's records.

There are several reasons to report the change. First, IRS and Social Security match computer records. If the name and Social Security number you report on your tax return do not match the name and Social Security number in our records, it could delay the processing of your return as well as any tax refund you might be due.

The second reason it is important to make sure your Social Security records are up-to-date is because your potential Social Security benefits are based almost entirely on the earnings record we maintain for you. If your employer reports earnings to the government under your new name, and your Social Security record still shows your old name, those earnings will likely not get credited to your Social Security earnings record. And missing earnings translate to lower Social Security benefits.

To change your name in Social Security's records, you need to apply for a new Social Security card. To make the application process faster and easier, just go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ and print out the form for a Social Security number, "Application Form SS-5."

Just complete the one-page form and bring or mail it to your local Social Security office with either your marriage certificate showing your old and new names or two documents " one with your former name and one with your married name. All documents must be originals or certified copies and must have information that clearly identifies you, like your date and place of birth. The application form lists other documents Social Security accepts. Remember to also bring your photo identification like a driver's license or passport.

If you don't have Internet access, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office.



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