TN 17 (01-24)

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

Reference

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 their given names). They submit 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. They do not have a name change document establishing a legal name change as listed in RM 10212.001B.2 or RM 10212.010.

They explain that they want to reverse their given names (first and middle names) because people get confused and believe their name is “John” instead of “Johns” and they are tired of explaining that their parents named him “Johns” which was their grandmother’s maiden name.

SSA cannot process the name change because Johns did not submit a legal name change document. Although Andrew is one of their given names, SSA cannot issue them an SSN card in the name “Andrew Hopkins” because that is not their legal name.

B. Request for first given name to be shown as an initial

Johns Andrew Hopkins applies for a replacement SSN card showing their name as J. Andrew Hopkins. They submit 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. They do not have a name change document establishing a legal name change as listed in RM 10212.015.

Because Johns has not changed their 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 them a card showing their name as “J. Andrew Hopkins” (an initial instead of the full first name) ONLY when their full legal name is “J. (an initial rather than a full given name) Andrew Hopkins.”

In this case, their legal name is “Johns Andrew Hopkins,” Johns Hopkins,” or “Johns A. Hopkins,” and one of these versions of their 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). They request their name be shown on the SSN card as “Ma. (first name) Theresa (middle name) Perez (last name).”

They submit a Mexican passport showing their name as “Ma. Theresa Perez” and an immigration document (Form I-94) showing their name as “Maria Theresa Perez.” They completed an SS-5 showing their first name as “Ma.,” their middle name as “Theresa,” and their last name as “Perez.” The SS-5 is signed “Ma. Theresa Perez.”

SSA cannot show their 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 their legal name of “Maria Perez’ (as shown on their 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. They:

  • Complete an SS-5 showing their first name as Nica, their middle name as Perez, and their last name as Smith;

  • Complete the other names used field, showing that name as “Veronica, Cruz, Perez;”

  • Sign the SS-5 as “Nica P. Smith;”

  • Submit 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);

  • Submit a driver's license with her photograph and showing the name Veronica P. Smith; and

  • Submit a DHS employment authorization card with their photograph and showing their name as “Cruz Perez, Veronica.”

The applicant explains that “Nica” is a nickname for Veronica and is the name they generally use and want shown on the SSN card.

The marriage document:

  • is evidence of a legal name change of only the surname.

  • is not evidence of a name change of the given name from “Veronica” to “Nica.”

SSA cannot process the name change request to show their name as “Nica P. Smith” because they have not submitted a legal name change document showing they legally changed their 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 their last name to their new last name (their married name) with that agency.

E. Applicant requests SSN card in Americanized version of name

Filipp Minkin applies for an SSN card. They:

  • complete an SS-5 showing their name as “Philip Minkin;” and

  • submit a U.S. immigration document (an identity document) showing their name as “Filipp Minkin.”

  • do not provide any document showing their name as “Philip Minkin.”

  • do 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 their name on the SSN card the same way it is shown on the immigration document provided. They say they want to Americanize their name.

To get an SSN card in the Americanized version of their name, Filipp must submit a change document supporting a legal name change and showing their 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 they legally changed their 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, their professional name. Sherry explained that they merely changed the spelling of their 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. They need 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 they legally changed their 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 they use 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, they need 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 they legally changed their first name to “Carol.”

NOTE: If Carl is also changing their 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 they have been known for years in their community and at work (dropping their first name of “Agnes”). Even their State Identity card issued last year shows their name as Annette Martin. Annette said that they have never used the name “Agnes” and no one even knows that it is their first name. They added that they were told that because of their use of the name “Annette Martin” over the years that their legal name is now Annette Martin based on common law.

Annette’s explanation that some States follow common law concerning their name is correct. However, they do not have any evidence of a legal name change or that their name is legally “Annette Martin” rather than “Agnes Martin” or “Agnes Annette Martin” in their State. Therefore, for SSA to change their name on the SSA record they must submit evidence that they have legally changed their name to “Annette Martin.”

SSA cannot process the name change request because Annette has not submitted a name change document showing they legally changed their first name.

I. Reference

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


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0110212165
RM 10212.165 - Examples of Name Changes and Corrections that SSA Cannot Process - 01/18/2024
Batch run: 01/18/2024
Rev:01/18/2024