If you’ve ever thought about changing your Social Security number, know that it’s not a simple process. You will need a valid reason and several pieces of documentation in order to have your request granted. Generally, losing your Social Security card might not be enough of a reason to receive a change.
There are certain instances in which you can get a completely new Social Security number. The Social Security Administration says some examples include when sequential numbers are assigned to members of the same family and it is causing confusion, or when more than one person has been assigned an identical number.
You can also change your Social Security number if you are an identity theft victim and using your number continues to cause problems. In addition, domestic violence victims can be granted new digits. If you are a member of a religious or cultural group that is strongly against using certain numerals, you may also be eligible to apply. However, you will be requested to offer proof of these objections.
Here are five things to keep in mind when getting a new Social Security number.
1. Your original number will stick around
If your old number was causing you a world of trouble, you might not be happy to hear that the number will not be retired. But don’t fret, it’s for your own good. The Social Security Administration says your original number will be kept on file. The administration does this so that your old history will not be lost. Your old number is checked against the new number to ensure you receive proper credit for earnings under both numbers.
2. You’ll have to apply in person
If you find that you are qualified to receive a new number, you will have to go to your local Social Security Administration office and apply in person. You can download an application here. Go here to find your local office and make an appointment.
3. Make sure to bring proper documentation
You will be required to provide a statement that explains why you need a new number. You will also be requested to present current third-party evidence that can document your need to replace your old number. In the case of domestic violence, police and medical records and restraining orders can serve as evidence. Documentation from shelters, counselors, and family members are also accepted as proof of the necessity to apply for a new number.
In addition, the Social Security Administration office will ask you to present original documentation or copies certified by the issuer that can prove your age, identity, and citizenship or work-authorization immigration status. If you recently changed your name, you will also need to show original documents that can prove the name change. Photocopies and notarized copies will not be accepted.
4. A new number might cause credit confusion
Be aware that if your previous credit data does not link to your new Social Security number, you might have trouble obtaining new credit. Your history under your new number might make it look as if you are just recently building your credit. Lenders will need to take a look at your past payment history so that they can decide whether or not to approve you for a loan or grant credit. Your seemingly sparse credit history might make some lenders turn you down.
5. You don’t have to pay for a new number
You can apply for a new Social Security number or a replacement card free of charge. All you have to do is go online and download the application form. There are some businesses trying to make a buck who will offer Social Security services for a fee. These companies advertise services that help individuals complete the application form, for example. Know that the process of getting a new card or number doesn’t require payment. Instead of using a third party, your best bet is to do whatever tasks you can complete on your own or get for free directly from the Social Security Administration.