TN 1 (02-10)
RM 10212.165 Examples of Name Changes and Corrections that SSA Cannot Process
Do not process the following commonly requested examples of name changes and corrections unless the SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) is submitted with evidence of a legal name change, see RM 10212.010.
Name Change or Correction
Request for name change to reverse given names
RM 10212.165 A
Request for first given name to be shown as an initial
RM 10212.165 B
Request SSN card to show an abbreviation of name
RM 10212.165 C
Name change to a name that differs from name on immigration document
RM 10212.165 D
Applicant requests SSN card in Americanized version of name
RM 10212.165 E
Minor change in spelling of name that does not change the pronunciation
RM 10212.165 F
Minor change in spelling of name that changes the pronunciation
RM 10212.165 G
Request for name change because of dropping a name
RM 10212.165 H
A. Request for name change to reverse given names
Johns Andrew Hopkins applies for a replacement SSN card in the name Andrew Johns Hopkins (reversing his given names). He submits a Maryland driver’s license in the name Johns Hopkins (the name on the last Numident record) and a non-government employee identity card showing the name Andrew J. Hopkins. He does not have a name change document establishing a legal name change as listed in RM 10212.001B.2 or RM 10212.010.
He explains that he wants to reverse his given names (first and middle names) because people get confused and believe his name is “John” instead of “Johns” and he is tired of explaining that his parents named him “Johns” which was his grandmother’s maiden name.
SSA cannot process the name change because Mr. Hopkins did not submit a legal name change document. Although Andrew is one of his given names, SSA cannot issue him an SSN card in the name “Andrew Hopkins” because that is not his legal name.
B. Request for first given name to be shown as an initial
Johns Andrew Hopkins applies for a replacement SSN card showing his name as J. Andrew Hopkins. He submits a Maryland driver’s license in the name shown on the last Numident record (Johns Hopkins) and a non-government employee identity card showing the name J. Andrew Hopkins. He does not have a name change document establishing a legal name change as listed in RM 10212.015.
Because Johns has not changed his name but wants the SSN card to show an initial rather than the complete first name, this is not a legal name change.
The use of the initial presents problems with data matching exchanges between SSA and Federal and State governmental agencies and other authorized matching agreements. SSA can issue him a card showing his name as “J. Andrew Hopkins” (an initial instead of the full first name) ONLY when his full legal name is “J. (an initial rather than a full given name) Andrew Hopkins.”
In this case, his legal name is “Johns Andrew Hopkins,” Johns Hopkins,” or “Johns A. Hopkins,” and one of these versions of his legal name must be shown on the SSN card.
C. Request for SSN card to show an abbreviation of name
Maria Theresa Perez applies for a replacement SSN card for a name change. The prior Numident record shows, Maria (first name) Theresa (middle name) Perez (last name). She requests her name be shown on the SSN card as “Ma. (first name) Theresa (middle name) Perez (last name).”
She submits a Mexican passport showing her name as “Ma. Theresa Perez” and an immigration document (Form I-94) showing her name as “Maria Theresa Perez.” She completed an SS-5 showing her first name as “Ma.,” her middle name as “Theresa,” and her last name as “Perez.” The SS-5 is signed “Ma. Theresa Perez.”
SSA cannot show her given name on the SSN card as “Ma.” because in this case “Ma.” is an abbreviation for “Maria.” Explain that the SSA record must show her legal name of “Maria Perez’ (as shown on her I-94 immigration document) and that the full name of “Maria,” and not an abbreviation of “Maria,” must be shown on the SSN card.
NOTE: For information on the legal name policy for individuals born outside the US, see RM 10212.001 B. For information on when to use a person’s legal name on the SSN, see RM 10212.005.
D. Name change to a name that differs from name on immigration document
Veronica Cruz Perez applies for a replacement SSN card. She:
Completes an SS-5 showing her first name as Nica, her middle name as Perez, and her last name as Smith;
Completes the other names used field, showing that name as “Veronica, Cruz, Perez;”
Signs the SS-5 as “Nica P. Smith;”
Submits a marriage document showing Nica Cruz Perez and John Smith married (the marriage document shows the date of marriage for Nica and John, issued after the immigration document was issued);
Submits a driver's license with her photograph and showing the name Veronica P. Smith; and
Submits a DHS employment authorization card with her photograph and showing her name as “Cruz Perez, Veronica.”
The applicant explains that “Nica” is a nickname for Veronica and is the name she generally uses and wants shown on the SSN card.
The marriage document:
SSA cannot process the name change request to show her name as “Nica P. Smith” because she has not submitted a legal name change document showing she legally changed her first name from Veronica to Nica.
SSA cannot change her name on the Numident to “Veronica P. Smith” and issue an SSN card in that name, because identity cannot be established since the first name on the marriage document does not correctly reflect her first name.
Advise the NH to either:
report the incorrect first name on the marriage certificate to the State that issued the marriage document and to obtain appropriate evidence of a legal name change with the correct name; or
to contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to change her last name to her new last name (her married name) with that agency.
E. Applicant requests SSN card in Americanized version of name
Filipp Minkin applies for an SSN card. He:
completes an SS-5 showing his name as “Philip Minkin;” and
submits a U.S. immigration document (an identity document) showing his name as “Filipp Minkin.”
does not provide any document showing his name as “Philip Minkin.”
does not submit any legal name change document.
The name to be shown on the card must agree with the name on the identity document submitted. SSA must show his name on the SSN card the same way it is shown on the immigration document provided. He says he wants to Americanize his name.
To get an SSN card in the Americanized version of his name, Mr. Minkin must submit a change document supporting a legal name change and showing his name spelled in the desired way (e.g., Certificate of Naturalization, court order for a name change, or a new immigration document in the new name).
Although, “Philip” and “Filipp” sound the same and appear to be the same name just spelled differently, the system, when screening names, treats them as different names.
SSA cannot issue the SSN card in the name requested because this is a legal name change request and Filipp has not submitted a name change document showing he legally changed his name.
F. Minor change in spelling of name does not change the pronunciation
Sherry Stone requested a replacement SSN card in the name Cherree Stone, her professional name. Sherry explained that she merely changed the spelling of her name to make it unique without changing the pronunciation of the name.
Although the name sounds the same, this is a name change. SSA’s electronic name verification screening routines treat names that sound the same but are spelled differently as different names. She needs to submit a name change document supporting a legal name change to “Cherree Stone.”
SSA cannot process the name change request because Sherry has not submitted a name change document showing she legally changed her first name.
G. Minor change in spelling of name changes the pronunciation
Carl Rose changed gender and is now known as Carol Rose. Carol requested a replacement SSN card in the new name she uses for work and all other purposes.
Although the new name is only one letter different from the name on the last Numident record, for SSA purposes, this is a name change. For SSA to change Carl Rose’s name to Carol Rose, she needs to submit a name change document supporting a legal name change.
SSA cannot process the name change request because Carl has not submitted a name change document showing she legally changed her first name to “Carol.”
NOTE: If Carl is also changing her sex code on the Numident, additional documentation is required per RM 10212.200.
H. Request for name change because of dropping a name
Agnes Annette Martin requested a replacement SSN card in the name Annette Martin, the name by which she has been known for years in her community and at work (dropping her first name of “Agnes”). Even her State Identity card issued last year shows her name as Annette Martin. Annette said that she has never used the name “Agnes” and no one even knows that it is her first name. She added that she was told that because of her use of the name “Annette Martin” over the years that her legal name is now Annette Martin based on common law.
Annette’s explanation that some States follow common law concerning her name is correct. However, she does not have any evidence of a legal name change or that her name is legally “Annette Martin” rather than “Agnes Martin” or “Agnes Annette Martin” in her State. Therefore, for SSA to change her name on the SSA record she must submit evidence that she has legally changed her name to “Annette Martin.”
SSA cannot process the name change request because Annette has not submitted a name change document showing she legally changed her first name.
RM 10212.001, Defining the Legal Name for an SSN
RM 10212.005, When to Use the Legal Name
RM 10212.010, Evidence of a Name Change on the SSN Card
RM 10215.110, Policy on Providing Written Notice and Second Review When SSN or Card May Not Be Issued