When and How To Update Social Security Records

Did you recently become a citizen? Have any of your personal information changed? Do you wish to correct erroneous information in your SSA records? Whatever might be your reason for updating your social security records, it’s best to do it as soon as possible.

To update social security records, you generally need to go through these four steps:

  1. Prepare your identification and other supporting documents.
  2. Complete Form SS-5. You can download this online or get one in local SSA offices.
  3. Submit your documents to the SSA.
  4. Answer questions by the SSA staff verifying your personal information or immigration status.

To make the process easier for you, we put together this quick guide on how and when to update social security records.

Why Do You Need to Update Your Social Security Records?

There are a lot of advantages to having an updated social security record. For one, it will make it easier to collect social security benefits in the future.

Outdated social security records may also affect your employment opportunities. When you are hired, your employer will enter your SSN in E-Verify, a web-based system by the US Department of Homeland Security. This helps them verify your eligibility to work in the US. If your records are not updated, they may think you are working illegally.

Some disability benefits are also available only to citizens. So, updating your citizenship records will ease the process once you apply for such.

When Should You Update Social Security Records?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you should update your social security records if:

  • there’s a change in your legal name, marriage status, banking details, or contact number
  • you moved to a different address
  • you’re going abroad for more than 30 days
  • your citizenship or immigration status has changed
  • your sex identification has changed
  • there’s erroneous information in your SSA records

Updating your social security records might be the least of your priority right now. But doing so as soon as possible will save you from potential headaches down the road.

What Documents Do You Need?

If you want to change any information in your record, you need to produce documents that will:

  • prove your identity
  • support the requested change
  • establish the reason for the change

The SSA only accepts certain documents as proof of identity. This includes:

  • U.S. driver’s license
  • State-issued non-driver’s identification card
  • U.S. passport
  • Employee ID card
  • School ID card
  • Health insurance card
  • Adoption decree
  • Life insurance policy

Depending on your reason for updating your social security records, you may also need to attach:

  • amended birth certificates
  • marriage certificate
  • divorce decree
  • adoption decree
  • tribal document
  • court order
  • evidence of the error (for corrections on erroneous personal information)
  • documents with your new address or contact number
  • immigration documents such as your Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship

All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Photocopies and notarized copies are not acceptable. Any documents you send by mail will be returned to you along with a receipt.

Documents needed to update social security records.

How to Update Your Social Security Records

In general, you can update your social security records online, by phone, or in person. However, it will still depend on your purpose for requesting the update.

Change in Name

You can only change your name in your records by requesting a replacement Social Security Card. The SSA will mail your new Social Security Card after updating your records.

In general, you can only change your name in your social security records if:

  • you got married or divorced
  • had your name legally changed through a court order

Depending on the circumstances of your name change, you can do it online, by phone, or you may need to go to the SSA office in person. You can take the SSA’s short test to determine the best platform for your request.

Change in Contact Information

An obsolete address, phone number, or email address may prevent you from receiving important SSA notifications. So if you don’t want to lose your benefits, you need to make sure that the contact information in your records is up to date.

Updating your contact information is pretty easy. You just need to log in to your SSA account and change your contact information. Or you can contact the SSA and ask a representative to update your contact information.

Change in Sex Identification

Just like changing your name, you can change your sex identification by requesting a replacement Social Security Card. You don’t need any medical or legal documentation to prove your gender designation. However, you can only set your gender identity to either male or female.

You can do this online or by submitting the required documents in person to the nearest SSA office.

Change in Citizenship or Immigration Status

Updating your citizenship status will also warrant a replacement of your social security card. You may request a replacement online or by calling the SSA and asking a representative to update your citizenship or immigration status. The SSA will mail your new social security card after updating your record.

Correcting Erroneous Information

Depending on the information you want to correct, you may or may not have to request a replacement social security card. However, you will need to present proof of the error. Again, you can do this online or in person.

When to Update Social Security Records After Naturalization

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advises waiting at least 10 days after your oath-taking ceremony before updating your records. But don’t wait too long, or it might slip your mind.

There are no penalties if you forget to report your change in citizenship. But remember that it’s for your own benefit. So make sure that you find time to do it at some point.

What to Keep in Mind

Keeping your Social Security records up to date is critical for obtaining benefits and avoiding certain pitfalls.

Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected name change, a marriage or civil union, or naturalization into U.S. citizenship, you must take the time to update your records. Doing so assures that you’ll always have access to the funds and benefits associated with your account.

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About The Author

Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.