My office manager recently got married (congrats Kris!) and began discussing the difficulty of having to change one’s name both externally and internally. We both began to notice that there does not appear to be readily-accessible information for human resources personnel and employees on how to tackle this issue.
While a blog post certainly cannot cover everything, there are a few resources that I’ve seen that can help HR personnel deal with this issue and make it easier for their employees. Unfortunately, until the legislature and various agencies change the laws regarding name changes to make them less burdensome, employees will have to carry much of the burden. HR personnel can assist by pointing them in the right direction.
First and foremost, the employee must notify Social Security AND their employer. Otherwise, the wages earned may not get posted correctly to the employee’s Social Security record and could delay the employee’s tax refund.
Here’s where it gets interesting, to change a name on your Social Security card, the SSA requires the employee to:
- Complete an Application For A Social Security Card (Form SS-5);
- Show them proof of:
- U.S. citizenship (if you have not previously established your citizenship with us) or immigration status;
- Legal name change; and
- All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents.
To prove a legal name change, the employee must show either a marriage document or a court order for a name change.
To prove identity after marriage, the employee must provide a document that shows the employee’s old name, as well as other identifying information or a recent photograph. (They can accept an expired document as evidence of your old name.) A drivers’ license should suffice.
In Connecticut, there is a "pathfinder" set up by the state to assist. For the more formal documents, this link will provide all the laws and history to make a name change. The Judicial Branch’s Law Library also has links to the necessary forms as well on a separate page that is much easier to understand. Lastly, the state’s Infoline, also has a neat summary of the links and forms needed to change a name in Connecticut.
In addition to the federal and state requirements, employers should obviously get updated information for their personnel files and benefit plans. Most benefit providers have easy to use forms for the employees to fill out but a pro-active employer could provide those forms to the employees directly. Employers should have their employees update their "emergency contact" cards. (It’s a good practice to have those contact cards updated on a yearly or bi-yearly basis to make sure the information the company has is accurate.) A nice touch would also be to order new "name plates" or business cards for those employees too.
Weddings are stressful enough; but an employer can demonstrate its "human" side by making it easier for employees to deal with the ramifications of marriage. Having plans to deal with employees who make name changes is one simple way to do so. Feel free to post other useful resources for employers using the comments section below.