TN 6 (08-06)

PR 02706.047 Tennessee

A. PR 06-285 Jamaican marriage document as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security Number card for a Tennessee resident Number Holder - Kristina R. B~

DATE: August 15, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Tennessee acknowledges a foreign marriage in Jamaica, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

In a case governed by Tennessee law, you asked whether a Jamaican marriage document would constitute sufficient evidence of a legal name change to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA or Agency) to issue a replacement Social Security Number (SSN) card to NH that reflects the name change.

SHORT ANSWER

In a case governed by Tennessee law, you asked whether a Jamaican marriage document would constitute sufficient evidence of a legal name change to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA or Agency) to issue a replacement Social Security Number (SSN) card to NH that reflects the name change.

BACKGROUND

The facts as presented are that NH, nee Kristina R. D~, filed an application for a SSN card to reflect a change in her last name to B~ as a result of a marriage that occurred in September 2005. At the time of the application, NH was over eighteen years of age. As evidence of her identity, NH presented a Tennessee driver's license and a certified copy of a marriage register issued in the Island of Jamaica sowing that she was married to Jonathan L. B~ on September 20, 2005. Pursuant to POMS RM 00203.200G.2, you requested an opinion on the validity of the foreign marriage document.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN card to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit documentation of the name change and his or her identity. The name change documentation may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents (one showing the prior name and one showing the current name). See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

NH has presented a Jamaican marriage document as evidence to support the request for a SSN card name change. The marriage documentation appears to be adequate under Tennessee law to validate a legal name change. Tennessee is a common law state. The Common Law has long recognized an individual's right to use any name he or she chooses as long as use of the chosen name does not interfere with another's rights. See In re J~, 87 S.W. 3d 513, 515 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002). Furthermore, Tennessee's requirements for a drivers license name change are minimal. If an individual is changing his or her name, Tennessee requires that he or she provide proof of the name change through a "certified marriage certificate supporting the change." See Tennessee Department of Safety website (<http://tennessee.gov/safety/driverlicense/dldocuments.htm>).

Tennessee courts "recognize as valid all marriages of a foreign country, if made in pursuance of the forms and usages of that country." Morgan v. McGhee, 24 Tenn. (5 Hum.) 13 (1844). The Supreme Court of Tennessee recently considered the validity of a foreign (Mexican) marriage in Guzman v. Alvares, -- S.W.3d --, 2006 WL 1896334 (Tenn. July 11, 2006). The court recognized that "regularly solemnized marriages are presumed to be valid." G~, 2006 WL 1896334 at *3. Although this presumption is not conclusive and may be rebutted, the party challenging the validity of the marriage bears the burden of rebutting the presumption by providing "cogent and convincing" evidence that the marriage is invalid. Id. (citing Aghili v. Saadatnejadi, 958 S.W.2d 784, 789 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997). In this case, there is no "cogent and convincing" evidence that NH's marriage is invalid.

There is also no evidence in this case of fraud or improper purpose in the presentation of alleged marriage certificate or the proposed name change. Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe that Tennessee's standard for initial proof of a marriage would be minimal when offered for the purpose of a name change. We can find no reason that Tennessee would not recognize the Antigua marriage document as adequate to support a name change. Therefore, we believe the marriage document satisfies the requirement for documentation of the change of name.

As noted above, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires documentation of identity separate from documentation of the name change. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). In this case, the marriage document contains NH's date of birth and her father's name. If this information matches SSA's Numident data, the marriage document can serve as a basis for the name change.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change, given that NH provided the necessary identity documents pursuant to POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1).

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: __________________
Joseph P. P~
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 06-269 Jamaican marriage document as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card for a Tennessee resident - Jennifer J. P~

DATE: August 8, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

Ordinarily, SSA would be able to process the name change because the State of Tennessee acknowledges a foreign marriage in Jamaica, and the wife is taking the husband's last name. However, in this instance, although the marriage document appears otherwise valid, it does not contain both the old and new names, as required by POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1).

2. OPINION

QUESTION PRESENTED

You asked whether a Jamaican marriage document would constitute sufficient evidence of a legal name change to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a replacement Social Security card to Ms. P~ that reflects the name change.

Short Answer

No. Although the marriage document appears otherwise valid, it does not contain both the old and new names, as required by POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1).

BACKGROUND

Ms. P~, a U.S. citizen, currently holds an SSN card bearing the name Jennifer M. J~. On June 6, 2006, she applied for a replacement card bearing the name Jennifer J~ P~. She supplied a document entitled Certified Copy of Marriage Register that shows that Jennifer M. J~ S.~ married Jason W. P~ on May 16th, 2006, at Saint Ann Parrish, Jamaica. The document is signed by Wesley B~, Marriage Officer of the Island of Jamaica.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit documentation of the name change and his or her identity. The name-change document may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents (one showing the prior name and one showing the current name. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

Tennessee is a common law state. The Common Law has long recognized an individual's right to use any name he or she chooses as long as use of the chosen name does not interfere with another's rights. See In re J~, 87 S.W. 3d 513, 515 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002). Furthermore, Tennessee's requirements for a drivers license name change are minimal. If an individual is changing his or her name, Tennessee requires that he or she provide proof of the name change through a "certified marriage certificate supporting the change." See Tennessee Department of Safety website (<http://tennessee.gov/safety/driverlicense/dldocuments.htm>).

Tennessee courts "recognize as valid all marriages of a foreign country, if made in pursuance of the forms and usages of that country." Morgan v. McGhee, 24 Tenn. (5 Hum.) 13 (1844). The Supreme Court of Tennessee recently considered the validity of a foreign (Mexican) marriage in Guzman v. Alvares, -- S.W.3d --, 2006 WL 1896334 (Tenn. July 11, 2006). The court recognized that "regularly solemnized marriages are presumed to be valid." G~, 2006 WL 1896334 at *3. Although this presumption is not conclusive and may be rebutted, the party challenging the validity of the marriage bears the burden of rebutting the presumption by providing "cogent and convincing" evidence that the marriage is invalid. Id. (citing Aghili v. Saadatnejadi, 958 S.W.2d 784, 789 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997)). Although Tennessee presumes a marriage is valid, Tennessee law expressly declares that a same-sex marriage, even if performed in another state or foreign jurisdiction, "shall be void and unenforceable." Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-113 (2006). Similarly, Tennessee forbids incestuous marriages. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-101 (2006).

Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe that Tennessee's standard for initial proof of a marriage would be minimal when offered for the purpose of a name change. We can find no reason that Tennessee would not recognize a Jamaican foreign marriage certificate as adequate to support a name change. We also found no statute or caselaw that would suggest Tennessee would treat a foreign marriage document differently based on the country of origin.

However, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the name change show both the old and new names. In this case, the old name shown on the document does not match Ms. P~'s current SSN card nor a name indicated in the numident data. A person's legal name is the first name and surname; an incorrect middle name does not matter. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(2). Since it is the pre-marriage surnames that do not match, the name-change document does not contain both the old and new legal names. The marriage document shows her as divorced prior to the marriage, and thus it would be reasonable to assume that her last name on the marriage document, Shebesh, represents the prior marriage, but this is not documented. Therefore, Ms. P~ must show evidence of the change in name from Jennifer M. J~ to Jennifer M. J~ S~. If she furnishes that evidence, then the Jamaican marriage document would be sufficient to change the name from Jennifer M. J~ S~ to Jennifer J. P~.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe Tennessee would accept a foreign marriage document(s) as a basis for permitting a name change.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: __________________
Joseph P. P~
Assistant Regional Counsel

C. PR 06-251 Foreign Marriage Document(s) as Evidence of Name Change for Purposes of Securing Replacement Social Security card for a Tennessee Resident

DATE: August 7, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Mississippi acknowledges a foreign marriage regardless of the country of origin, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether documents purporting to be marriage documents from a foreign country can constitute sufficient evidence of a name change for a resident of Tennessee to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a replacement Social Security card that reflects the name change.

ANSWER

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Tennessee residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient documentation of identity.

BACKGROUND

The Intelligence Reform Terrorist Provision Act (IRTPA) of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-458), which became effective in December 2005, required changes to the way SSA issues replacement Social Security cards. Some of the changes relate to the documentation required to permit SSA to issue a new card with different name. Recent regulations published to address IRTPA issues clarify that references to a change of the name on the Social Security card are "verified legal changes to the first name and/or surname." 20 C.F.R. §§ 422.103 and 422.110. The preamble to the regulations explained that SSA added the terms "legal" and "verified" to the parenthetical statement that describes name changes to provide a more precise description of the kind of name change we intended as a basis for a replacement card. See "Social Security Number (SSN) Cards; Limiting Replacement Cards," 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,055 (Jul. 31, 2006). Pursuant to POMS provisions published over the last several months, you have been forwarding numerous requests for opinions about whether Tennessee would accept purported marriage documents from various countries as a basis for permitting a name change. Since, as explained in greater detail below, we have determined that whether Tennessee would accept foreign marriage documents as a basis for a name change, we are providing this guidance to help you and field office staff process these cases without the need to refer each one for a legal opinion. It is our understanding that once this opinion is published as a precedent, you will only need to refer unusual questions not covered below. Of course, we will be delighted to assist you with those unusual cases as they arise.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, the applicant generally must submit documentation of the name change and his or her identity. The name change documentation may be either a court order or a marriage document. The name-change document should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name change document itself, or on two other identity documents (one showing the prior name and one showing the current name). See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8).

A foreign marriage certificate appears to be adequate under Tennessee law to validate a legal name change. Tennessee is a common law state. The Common Law has long recognized an individual's right to use any name he or she chooses as long as use of the chosen name does not interfere with another's rights. See In re J~, 87 S.W. 3d 513, 515 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002). Furthermore, Tennessee's requirements for a drivers license name change are minimal. If an individual is changing his or her name, Tennessee requires that he or she provide proof of the name change through a "certified marriage certificate supporting the change." See Tennessee Department of Safety website (<http://tennessee.gov/safety/driverlicense/dldocuments.htm>).

Tennessee courts "recognize as valid all marriages of a foreign country, if made in pursuance of the forms and usages of that country." Morgan v. McGhee, 24 Tenn. (5 Hum.) 13 (1844). The Supreme Court of Tennessee recently considered the validity of a foreign (Mexican) marriage in Guzman v. Alvares, -- S.W.3d --, 2006 WL 1896334 (Tenn. July 11, 2006). The court recognized that "regularly solemnized marriages are presumed to be valid." G~, 2006 WL 1896334 at *3. Although this presumption is not conclusive and may be rebutted, the party challenging the validity of the marriage bears the burden of rebutting the presumption by providing "cogent and convincing" evidence that the marriage is invalid. Id. (citing Aghili v. Saadatnejadi, 958 S.W.2d 784, 789 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997). Although Tennessee presumes a marriage is valid, Tennessee law expressly declares that a same-sex marriage, even if performed in another state or foreign jurisdiction, "shall be void and unenforceable." Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-113 (2006). Similarly, Tennessee forbids incestuous marriages. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-101 (2006).

Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe that Tennessee's standard for initial proof of a marriage would be minimal when offered for the purpose of a name change. We can find no reason that Tennessee would not recognize a foreign marriage certificate as adequate to support a name change. We also found no statute or caselaw that would suggest Tennessee would treat a foreign marriage document differently based on the country of origin.

There are a number of scenarios to consider when considering POMS application to a name change request based on foreign marriage documentation. In addition to the marriage document, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires biographical information that can be compared to the applicant's numident data. If the marriage event occurred within the last two years, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the marriage document contain either a photograph of the person or biographical information (information on age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared to the NH's numident data. If the marriage document indicates that the marriage occurred within the last two years and contains sufficient biographical data to compare to the numident data, SSA can process the name change. However, if the marriage event occurred over two years ago or the marriage document does not contain sufficient biographical information, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the applicant provide two identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name in accordance with the list of appropriate identifying documentation found in POMS RM 00203.200(e). Therefore, in this scenario, the name change cannot be processed on the basis of the marriage document(s) alone, but can be processed if the NH produces the other identifying documents that comply with POMS. Please note, if an applicant for name change is not an United States citizen, please follow the procedures listed in POMS RM 00203.210(C) and POMS RM 00203.200(H)(2)(d).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe Tennessee would accept a foreign marriage document(s) as a basis for permitting a name change.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: __________________
Joseph P. P~
Assistant Regional Counsel


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502706047
PR 02706.047 - Tennessee - 09/27/2012
Batch run: 09/27/2012
Rev:09/27/2012