One of the decisions you have to make if you’re getting married is if you’re going to change your name to represent your new union. While traditionally this meant that the wife would adopt her husband’s name, this isn’t something that’s necessarily relegated to just one spouse; in fact, many modern married couples may choose to hyphenate their last name to represent the union of two families into one.
Whatever the impetus behind the name change may be, it’s important to realize that a legal name change carries with it some important responsibilities. The most important of these is undoubtedly updating your name with the Social Security Administration – and making sure that you get a new, updated Social Security card with your new last name.
Gathering What You Need
The process for getting a replacement Social Security card isn’t necessarily a difficult one. While you can’t apply for a new or replacement card online – which means you’ll need to take your marriage certificate with your new last name to your local Social Security office either in person or through the mail. This, in addition to filling out a name change application form that can be easily downloaded and printed out, are the primary things you’ll need when it comes to requesting your new card. Doing it this way may take longer, but the process is free – making it a small price to pay to get your new card.
Of course, you may also need more documentation than just your application form and your marriage certificate. You may also need to prove your US citizenship or your identity in general. There are several documents that the SSA will accept as proof, such as a passport or a birth certificate for proof of citizenship and a state-issued driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card to verify identity. Once you have provided the SSA with everything they need to verify your identity, your US citizenship, and proof of your legal name change, you will be provided a new Social Security card through the mail.
Not Just for Marriages
Of course, not every trip to the Social Security office may be for a positive life event like getting married. If you lose your social security card, if it’s destroyed somehow, or if you are divorcing your spouse and wish to return to the last name you had prior to marriage, it’s highly recommended that you get a replacement Social Security card – even if you have your Social Security Number memorized.
The good news is that the process for replacing a lost or missing card is nearly identical to receiving a new card with an updated name after marriage. In fact, it actually requires less paperwork, as all you need to do is to fill out the application form and provide proof of your identity and US citizenship – no further documentation like a marriage certificate is needed, though if you want a replacement card after the dissolution of a marriage you will need your finalized divorce decree.
There’s further good news as well: like a name change for marriage, there’s no cost for a replacement card. However, you are limited to three replacement cards in a year and a total of 10 replacement cards over the course of your lifetime for lost or misplaced cards. Replacement cards associated with marriages, divorces, or other legal name changes don’t count towards this limit, which means that you should be covered for any eventuality.