PR 07505.007 Colorado
A. PR 00-024 Working Under An Alias
DATE: February 29, 2000
An SSA employee legally changed his name but wishes to continue working under his former name.
The legal opinion of Deana R. Ertl-Lombardi, Chief Counsel - Region VIII, states there is no legal prohibition to an employee working under his former name as an alias. However, regulations require that the employee must report the name change to SSA. SSA should advise the employee that inconsistencies in the use of his alias (the former Name) and his legal name could trigger inquiries from various agencies and institutions.
You have requested a legal opinion as to whether an SSA employee who has legally changed his name may continue to work under his former name.
We believe the employee is not legally prohibited from working under his former name/alias. However, he should be encouraged to correct his social security records.
An SSA employee legally changed his name. He did not correct his records with his employer, SSA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Colorado Department of Revenue (e.g., Motor Vehicle Division), or his private health insurer. He wishes to continue to work under his former name.
We found no legal reason prohibiting this employee from working under his former name as an alias. However, regulations requiring employees who earn wages subject to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act to secure an account number, provide that "any employee whose name is changed . . . should report such change to a district office of the Social Security Administration." 26 C.F.R. § 31.6011(b)(2) (1999) (emphasis added).
Additionally, an employer should "tell the employee to report the name change to the local Social Security office and secure a new card with that name on it." Program Operations Manual System (POMS) § RM 01105.015C, Q14 & A.4. An employer is required to examine the employee's social security number card to ensure the employer's records, returns, statements for employee, and claims reflect, exactly, the employee's name and account number. See 26 C.F.R. § 31.6011(b)-2(c)(1) (1999). Specifically, an employer should continue to record the employee's name as it appears on his social security card on any W-2 forms that are prepared until the employee shows a new card. POMS RM 01105.015C, Q.4 & A.4. An employer should note the employee's name change in its records. See 26 C.F.R. § 31.6001-2(a)(i) (1999). To avoid the possibility of a penalty for supplying incorrect information to SSA, an employer also may wish to annotate all informational forms (e.g., W-2, W-2c or W-3 forms) stating that the employee legally changed his name but continues to work under his former name/an alias. See 26 C.F.R. § 31.6051-2 (1999).
Accordingly, as a model employer, SSA should examine the employee's social security card; record the employee's name exactly as it appears on the card in its records and on returns, statements for the employee, and claims; note the employee's name change in its records; tell the employee to report his name change officially to SSA and secure a new social security card with that name on it; and annotate information returns (W-2, W-2c, or W-3 forms) indicating anecdotally that the employee legally changed his name.
It may also be advisable for SSA to tell the employee that inconsistencies in the use of his alias and his legal name could trigger inquiries from, for example, the IRS, SSA, and financial institutions . See POMS §§ GN 00302.470 A-D, RM 00206.065 A & B, TC 80189.050 A, B, D, E; Internal Revenue Manual §§ 48(13)1 HB 3(11)0, 4243, 6830 HB (12)22. Most inquiries will require the employee to take action to resolve any discrepancies, i.e., he may have to explain he legally changed his name (he may have to show a court order or other evidence of a name change), but that he prefers to use his original name as an alias for work, Social Security, and tax purposes. See id.