If you need to change your name due to marriage, divorce, or any other reason, you will want to report the change to Social Security.

There are several reasons to report the change. One, is that the IRS and Social Security match computer records. If your name on your Social Security number and tax return do not match, it could delay the processing of your return as well as any tax refund you might be due.

It is important to make sure your Social Security records are up-to-date because your potential benefits are based almost entirely on the earnings maintained for you. If your employer reports earnings to the government under your new name, and your record still shows your old name, those earnings may not get credited to your Social Security earnings record. Missing earnings can lead to lower future Social Security benefits.

To change your name in Social Security’s records, you must apply for a new Social Security card. To apply, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ and print out the form “Application Form SS-5”. That’s also the form you need if you want to apply for a replacement card. It also tells you what evidence you will need to submit.

Mail or take in your completed form to your local Social Security office with proper documentation. They must be originals or certified copies that clearly identifies you with your date and place of birth. The application includes information on what types of identity and documentation are needed for specific cases, and what sorts of documents can be accepted.

The application process is easy and is well described, along with other related information, at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Social Security Administration - Generations Magazine - June-July 2013