Q: An employee’s Social Security card lists her first name as “Michelle.” She says this is a mistake, and her name is really spelled “Mechelle.” When I told her that she needed to get a replacement Social Security card, she said that the Social Security Administration (SSA) told her that she would need to first have her name changed in court before a replacement card could be issued. This sounds fishy to us. Does the SSA care about first names?
A: You’re right to be concerned. According to the SSA, an employee’s legal name consists of the first and last names. Matching both names with Social Security numbers is one of the routines the SSA uses to ensure that an employee’s earnings are properly credited to his or her earnings account. That said, the SSA does require proof of someone’s name, but doesn’t require anyone go to court to change his or her name.