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A day dedicated to the new you

Proudly displaying your new last name on a marriage certificate is only the first step in legally changing your name. Now that the wedding and honeymoon are over, you need to tell Social Security so you can get a corrected Social Security card.

If you have changed your name, whether due to marriage, divorce, or for another reason, the way to change your name with Social Security is to apply for a corrected Social Security card. This ensures that your legal name matches our records, thus avoiding possible problems in the future, such as a delay in obtaining any federal tax refund owed or not getting full Social Security credit for all your earnings.

There are a number of other reasons you may want to get a Social Security card: starting a new job, verifying eligibility for government services, opening a bank account, obtaining medical coverage, filing taxes, and legally changing your name. In most cases, unless an employer or other entity specifically requests to see your card, all they really need is your number. But be cautious when sharing your Social Security number. People who commit fraud or want to steal your identity will often ask for your Social Security number. Always verify the identity of anyone who is asking, whether you’re online, on the phone, or face-to-face.

If you just had a baby, he or she will need a Social Security number. The main reason is to show your child’s dependent status on your tax return. In most cases, you apply for your newborn’s Social Security card and number, as well as the baby’s birth certificate, in the hospital.

If you need a new, replacement, or corrected Social Security card, you can find all the details at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber, including the “Learn What Documents You Need” page, which lists the specific documents we accept as proof of age, identity, and citizenship. Each situation is unique, but in most cases, you simply need to print, complete, and either mail or bring the application to Social Security with the appropriate documentation (originals or certified copies only).

After you receive your Social Security card, don’t carry it with you. To reduce your risk of identity theft, keep your card in a safe place with your other important papers.

Learn more about your Social Security card and number at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Kylle’ McKinney, Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached in Montgomery at 866-593-0914, ext. 26265, or at kylle.mckinney@ssa.gov.