The Name Game

This morning I went down to the Social Security office to change my name to my new married name.  I thought I share some advice with any of you who were doing the same!

First off, go online to www.ssa.gov (Social Security Administration) and there you can find the appropriate form which is the Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) and the location of your local Social Security office and times they are OPEN.  (Notice I’ve stressed open… this is critical!)

In terms of the documents you’d need to bring, be sure to grab:

        • a certified copy of your marriage license (they give this back to you)
        • the SS-5 form
        • your passport.  (If you don’t have a passport, have your license and birth certificate on you just in case.)

Now here’s where I get back to the criticality of the timing.  Social Security offices are funny places and sort through all sorts of problems like disability, collection, name changes, applications for new cards and so on and so on.  The moral of this being – there are a lot of people out there with bigger issues than taking their husband’s name.  My office opened at 9AM after reading about the process and being advised to arrive early if you wanted an easy time of it I decided to hit the road around 8.

I would have taken pictures, but that’s a big no-no at agencies like these so I’ll walk you through.  I arrived at the office at 8:25AM and the advice I read was correct!  The office was opening in 35 minutes and there were already 2 other people waiting at the door (+ me makes 3).

3Ppl

By 8:35 AM there were 7 people.

7Ppl

And you guessed it… just like Gremlins after midnight, these peeps multiplied fast!   The line doubled to 14 people in 10 minutes!

14Ppl

To be honest, park yourself very near the front of the door and don’t budge.  “Line” can be used loosely, I’m sure, depending on what city you go to and by 9AM when they opened the doors and all 21 of us (yes, another 7 people showed up by 9AM!) filed in you had to fight for your right in line a little (as opposed to “party” since the officers at the SSA mean business). When all the fun waiting outside is all done, you file in to a machine, click a touch screen to select what you’re there for and a ticket pops out with your number – sorta like at the deli counter or the RMV.  All the numbers are preceded by different letters, but the letter signifies why you are there only – rest assured they’ll take you in order (did I mention be there early?)!

I was called quickly, had my paper work completed beforehand as well as my proof of ID and was out of there in 10 minutes with my newly married name on record for the US Government!  So all in all, it was about a 45 minute experience, but based on the additional 25 people in the waiting room that had accumulated once the doors open (and whose problems are bigger than yours remember!), this could have easily been an 1-2 hour ordeal just sitting and waiting.

So – to change your name with the SSA, just be yourself, but also…

    1. Be there early
    2. Be prepared with all your documents
    3. Be ready to wait
    4. Be patient

Hope it goes smoothly for you too!

Now I just get to wait for 2 weeks for my new card to arrive, then off to change my license, my passport, my bank info, my credit cards, my employer, my insurance info, my costco membership, my checks….  fun fun!

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