TN 12 (11-14)
PR 02707.011 Florida
A. PR 15-012 Florida Declaration of Domestic Partnership as Basis for Name Change on Social Security Card
DATE: October 22, 2014
A Certificate of Registered Domestic Partnership, entered in the State of Florida, is not proof of a legal name change.
I. Questions Presented
Whether a declaration of domestic partnership from the State of Florida is acceptable evidence for a name change on the Social Security card of a number holder (NH) who currently resides in Lowell, Massachusetts.
II. Short Answer
We do not believe the Florida declaration of domestic partnership is acceptable evidence to support a name change on the NH’s Social Security card under the agency’s rules.
A January 25, 2009 Declaration of Domestic Partnership entered into in Broward County, Florida, by Davis (the NH) and Timonthy, was submitted by the NH to support a legal name change on his Social Secuirty card. The NH requested to have his surname changed to match Timonthy’s surname.
IV. Applicable Law
Under the authority granted in 42 U.S.C. § 405(a), the agency has adopted procedural guidelines that relate to name changes on Social Security cards. As relevant here, the agency permits an individual to change his or her name on a Social Security card based on a domestic partnership, when, for example, the “partner takes the other parties’ last name.” POMS RM 10212.055. A separate instruction states, however, that a name change due to a domestic partnership requires the agency to determine whether that partnership would be accepted as evidence for name-change purposes in the State where the domestic partnership was entered. POMS RM 10212.045. The instruction also directs that, “when a legal opinion precedent is required to determine whether the document submitted is acceptable for a name change, SSA does not follow common law” but instead “generally follows statutory law…” Id.
In this case, if Florida statutory law provides that it would accept a declaration of domestic partnership issued within the State, as acceptable evidence for a name change, then the agency would as well.
The Florida Statutes do not permit a name change based on domestic partnership. Florida does, however, permit name change based on marriage or “other legal process.” See, e.g., Fla. Stat. Ann. § 101.045 (2014). The requirements for a name change based on marriage are not express in the Florida Statutes. The requirements for a name change petition—which we presume is the “other legal process” referenced in Section 101.045—include no reference to domestic partnernship. In discussing domestic partnerships, the District Court of Appeal of Florida has explained that “[the county Domestic Partnership Act (DPA)] does not reflect a legislative value judgment that elevates a non-traditional personal relationship to equal status with the marital relationship created under Chapter 741, Florida Statutes (1999). Lowe v. Broward County, 766 So.2d 1199, 1206 (2000), review denied 789 So.2d 346. The Court also stated that the DPA “does not create a legal relationship that … gives rise to rights and obligations that survive the termination of the relationship” and that, “[u]nlike a traditional marriage, a domestic partnership is purely contractual, based on the mutual agreement of the parties.” Lowe, 766 So.2d at 1206.
Further, same-sex marriage is not allowed under Florida law. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.2 (2014). The Florida Statutes provide that “[m]arriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state.” Id. (emphasis supplied).
The agency should not accept Davis’s Florida-issued declaration of domestic partnership as evidence for a name change because the State of Florida would not accept the document for the same purpose.
The agency can only permit Davis to change his name on his Social Security card based on a domestic partnership if that declaration of domestic partnership would be accepted as evidence for name-change purposes in the State where the partnership was entered – in this case, Florida. POMS RM 10212.045. Florida law does not accept a declaration of domestic partnership as evidence for name-change purposes. Rather, as discussed above, Florida allows legal name change only when someone “marries” or follows an “other legal process” (which does not reference or include domestic partnership). See, e.g., Fla. Stat. Ann. § 101.045 (2014), Fla. Stat. Ann. § 68.07 (2014). There is no provision in the Florida Statutes that permits a name change based on domestic partnership. Further, the State has expressly stated that a domestic partnership entered into in Broward County, such as the partnership at issue in this case, is not the equivalent of a marriage. See Lowe, 766 So.2d at 1206 (2000). Even if it were equivalent, Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 741.2 (2014). Based on an examination of Florida law, we believe that the State would not accept a declaration of domestic partnership as support for a legal name-change petition.
We believe the State of Florida would not accept a declaration of domestic partnership, issued within the State, as evidence to allow a legal name change. Thus, pursuant to POMS RM 10212.045, we conclude that the agency should not accept such a declaration as evidence to support a name change on the NH’s Social Security.
Assistant Regional Counsel
That provision states that, to petition for a name change, the petitioner must, inter alia: (1) provide fingerprints for a state and national criminal history records check (unless a former name is being restored); (2) demonstrate residency in the county where the name change is sought; (3) report the petitioner’s date of birth, residency since birth, and parents’ names; (4) report the name of any spouse or children; (5) report any previous name changes; (6) describe his or her work and educational history; (7) report any aliases; (8) report any bankruptcies; (9) report past arrests; (10) report any court judgements against the petitioner; (11) make a statement that the request is not being made for an illegal or ulterior purpose; and (12) confirm that the petitioner’s civil rights have never been suspended or have been restored if so suspended in the past. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 68.07 (2014). This rule has been effective since October 1, 2009. Id.
The additional requirement, under POMS RM 10212.055, is satisfied because the NH is attempting to take on the last name of his domestic partner.