Social Security Requirements for Employee Name Changes

With the summer wedding season now over, it is critical for employers to ensure that each employee’s name and Social Security Number (SSN)–as shown on his or her Social Security card–matches the employer’s payroll records and year-end Forms W-2.
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Employers
If an employee legally changes his or her name because of marriage, employers should continue to use the old name and tell the employee to contact Social Security to obtain an updated card. Employers should change their payroll records only after the employee obtains an updated Social Security card with the new name. Using a new name before the employee updates Social Security’s records may prevent the posting of earnings to the employee’s Social Security earnings history.

Employers can use Social Security’s free Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to match employees’ names and SSNs at the time they are hired, or before the employer prepares and submits employees’ Forms W-2.

Employees
Employees must take the following three steps in order to obtain a corrected Social Security card:

  1. Show the required documents, including proof of identity. See Learn What Documents You Need for more information. (Under the heading “Type of Card,” select “Corrected” for a list of the documents needed);
  2. Fill out and print an Application for a Social Security Card; and
  3. Take or mail the application and documents to a local Social Security office.

There is no charge for a Social Security card–this service is free. For complete instructions, please click here.

Our section on Social Security includes helpful information regarding Social Security benefits.

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