If you’re a victim of domestic violence or abuse, or you are experiencing significant and ongoing financial harm due to identity theft, then Social Security can assign you a different number.

General Things to Keep in Mind

  • You will still need to keep both social security numbers handy, as new employers will often need both to perform a background check. You will also have to list both numbers when filing for disability or retirement.
  • If you’re working, then let your employer know so that they can update their files. You want your income correctly posted to your social security record because it impacts future social security benefits.
  • Getting a new number can significantly complicate other areas of your life, such as getting a passport, receiving federal or state financial assistance, or maintaining your credit history. A less drastic option may be to put a block on your number, which prevents anyone, including yourself, from accessing your Social Security information online or by phone. No worries if you need to gain access again – you can get the block lifted by contacting Social Security.
  • Whatever your reason for needing a new number, you can only apply for one in person at your local Social Security office. You will need to show proof of your identity, age, and citizenship or immigration status — Social Security has checklists of acceptable documents.
  • If new social security numbers are being requested for children, then take evidence showing you have custody.

Domestic Violence or Abuse

Victims of domestic violence, abuse, or harassment must complete a statement explaining their need for a new number and provide documentation of the abuse, such as:

  • Police reports.
  • Medical records of injuries.
  • Restraining orders.
  • Letters from shelters, counselors, friends or family members with direct knowledge of the situation.

Social Security can help you gather evidence. If you have a unique name, then you will still be easy to track down. Change your name first before getting a new social security number.

Identity Theft

In identity theft cases, you will need to demonstrate that your number is being used for fraudulent transactions, and you are suffering ongoing harm because of it (e.g., a lowered credit rating or loan denial). You must have also exhausted all other means at your disposal to solve the problem.

Other Reasons Social Security Will Change Your Number

Social Security won’t change your number simply because your credit card has been lost or stolen to avoid bankruptcy or avoid other legitimate debts.
That said, Social Security will consider changing your number if:

  • Sequential numbers assigned to members of your family are causing confusion.
  • Another person was assigned or is using your number.
  • You have religious or cultural objections to certain numbers or digits in your original number. Social Security requires written documentation supporting the objection from a religious group with which you have an established affiliation.

Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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