What Happens When You Change Your Name with Social Security but Not with Work?

by Jennifer F. Bender

A person can change his or her name for a number of reasons, including marriage, divorce, and naturalization. Once a new name has been adopted, both the Social Security Administration and and one's own employer should be notified of the name change. Failure to notify the employer may result in problems with the recording of the individual's earnings.

Social Security Administration

To report a name change to the Social Security Administration, an individual must obtain the original marriage license, divorce decree, certificate of naturalization showing a new name, or a court order showing the name change. The individual must also fill out an application for a new Social Security card. He or she must submit these documents along with identification showing the former name, such as a driver's license or passport, to the Social Security Administration, who will then issue a new card with the same number but the new name within 10 days.

Employer

An employee with a name change needs to inform his or her employer so that wage information can be correctly sent to the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration. Most employers do not require proof of the name change such as a marriage, divorce or court document. They will require that the employee fill out a new W-4 form documenting the name change for their employee files. If the employer does not receive the name change information, it will continue to send earning reports to the Social Security Administration under the employee's old name.

Wages

An employer submits payroll information to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration each pay period using employee names. If an employee's name does not match up between the employer and the Social Security Administration's records, then wages may not be correctly attributed to the worker. The SSA will question the discrepancy and call or send out letters to the employer for clarification. This could also lead to a discrepancy in what the employee is entitled to receive in Social Security benefits later in life.

Tax Returns

If a person does not notify one's employer of his or her name change, an issue may also arise with the submission of year-end tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. If the employer and Social Security Administration have different earnings recorded in their systems for an individual, then these numbers will not match up with the employee's year-end tax return. This will cause the agencies to send letters or call the employee questioning the validity of his or her tax return. This can hold up any refunds owed to the employee until the earnings can be reconciled.