By Jonathan Fields, Esq.
If you change your name, a simple process that can be part of a divorce in Massachusetts, just make sure to inform Social Security:
Whenever you change your name, be sure to report the
change to Social Security. Otherwise, we may not record
your earnings properly and you may not receive all the
benefits you are due. Not changing your name with Social
Security can also delay your income tax refund, if you are
entitled to one.
To report a name change, fill out an Application for a
Social Security Card (Form SS-5). You can get the form
online by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov, at any Social
Security office, or by calling Social Security’s toll-free
You must show us proof of your legal name change.
Documents Social Security may accept to prove a legal
name change include:
• Marriage document;
• Divorce decree;
• Certificate of Naturalization showing a new name; or
• Court order for a name change (must be the original document, not
If the document you provide as evidence of a legal name
change doesn’t give us enough information to identify you
in our records, or if you changed your name more than
two years ago (four years ago if you’re younger than age
18), you must show us an identity document in your old
name (as shown in our records). We’ll accept an identity
document in your old name that has expired.
If you don’t have an identity document in your old name,
we may accept an unexpired identity document in your
new name, as long as we can properly establish your
identity in our records.
If you’re a U.S. citizen born outside the United States,
and our records don’t show you’re a citizen, you’ll need
to provide proof of your U.S. citizenship. If you aren’t a
U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current
The new card will have the same number as your
previous card, but will show your new name.