Changing Social Security records
This article is dedicated to the process of changing the records in the United States Social Security Administration (SSA).
The name on your Social Security card and SSA records can be changed once the legal name change process has been completed. Along with a filled out form SS-5, you will need a certified copy of your court order for name change, and two "identity documents." Examples of documents which satisfy this demand include:
- An unexpired valid U.S. driverâ€™s license or state issued identity card
- An unexpired U.S. Passport/Passport card
Along with a:
- U.S. military identification card (DOD Common Access Card)
- Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. Citizenship
- School identity card or record (for current school year) showing, in addition to your name, a photograph of you and/or your date of birth.
If the court order for name change is less than two years old and includes your prior name and current age or date of birth, it may be used as an "identity document." More examples of acceptable "identity documents," may be found at the SSA website.  The information on at least one of these documents must match existing records.
The change process is handled at your local SSA office. The form SS-5, is available for completion and printing online here: http://www.ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf .
The official regulation of changing the gender marker is as follows:
Accept any of the following:
- full-validity, 10-year U.S. passport with the new sex
NOTE: Do not accept passports with less than ten years of validity.;
- State-issued amended BC with the new sex;
- court order directing legal recognition of change of sex;
- medical certification of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in the form of an original signed statement from a licensed physician (i.e., a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)). The statement must include the following:
- physicianâ€™s full name;
- medical license or certificate number;
- issuing state, country, or other jurisdiction of medical license or certificate;
- address and telephone number of the physician;
- language stating that the individual has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (male or female);
- language stating the physician has either treated the individual in relation to the individualâ€™s change in gender or has reviewed and evaluated the medical history of the individual in relation to the individualâ€™s change in gender and that the physician has a doctorpatient relationship with the individual;
- language stating â€œI declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.â€
IMPORTANT: Surgery is no longer required to change the sex field on the Numident. However, if an individual presents an original or certified letter from a physician stating the individual has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, accept it as evidence to change the sex field when it meets the requirements in GN 00301.030 and contains sufficient biographical data (e.g., name, date of birth) to clearly identify the individual.
NOTE: In some cases an individualâ€™s sex may impact eligibility for benefits dependent upon spousal relationships. To make title II entitlement or title XVI eligibility determinations dependent upon marriage, follow the instructions in GN 00305.005B. Do not use sex field data on SSA records to make marital status determinations.
In simpler terms, this means that in order to change the gender marker in your Social Security record, you will need to present a letter from a licensed physician stating that the patient (you) has had appropriate gender treatment, along with a completed SS-5 form to your local SSA branch. Alternatively you may submit another form of documentation that has been changed, excluding driver's license or state issued ID card.
(Physicianâ€™s Address and Telephone Number)
I, (physicianâ€™s full name), (physicianâ€™s medical license or certificate number), (issuing U.S. State/Foreign Country of medical license/certificate), am the physician of (name of patient), with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whom I have treated (or with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whose medical history I have reviewed and evaluated).
(Name of patient) has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (specify new gender, male or female).
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.
Signature of Physician
Typed Name of Physician
Confirmation of change
As the gender marker is not indicated on the paper Social Security card issued to you, it may not be readily apparent that a change has occurred. In the event of a gender marker change subsequent to a name change a new card may not even need to be issued. In any case a written confirmation may be helpful to avoid future problems.
Form SSA-2458, "Report of Confidential Social Security Benefit Information" is the internal form used by the SSA to report miscellaneous changes. Box #10, "Other" should be checked and a notation entered that the gender identification in their records was updated as of that date.
The status of a pre-existing marriage in the eyes of the SSA is, at this point, still undetermined. While there are not any known cases of same-sex marriage (either after the gender reassignment of one of the partners, or in a state that formerly allowed it) couples being denied spousal benefits, current interpretation of SSA regulations could be used to reduce or deny benefits.
IMPORTANT: Numident (the SSA's term for your record) sex data is used for identification purposes only. Do not use the sex data shown on the Numident to determine whether a valid marital relationship exists in a claims situation. Rather, consult appropriate State law to make a determination whether a valid marital relationship exists.
In the workplace, employers are bound by law to attempt to verify the identity of a potential employee. Some employers will regularly run background checks due to the nature of the work performed. In the instance that information provided in identity documents (to meet the requirements of I-9) does not match with the records in the SSA, the employer will receive a "no-match letter" containing details of the alleged discrepancy.
As of September 24, 2011, The Social Security Administration will no longer use gender of records in inquiries SSN verification. The SSA will still send no-match letters for other data that doesn't match records.
- Name Corrections on the SSN Card Social Security Administration
- Changing Numident Data - Other than Name Change Social Security Administration
- Unauthorized and unlawful hiring or continued employment; safe-harbor procedures for employees who receive a no-match letter United States Department of Justice
- Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter: Clarification; Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis United States Department of Justice
- Documenting Gender: Incoherence and Rulemaking by Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 1, 2008
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