Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Name Change Adventures (#1)

So I haven't written about this yet, but Dan and I agreed awhile ago (about a year before we were even engaged) that I would change my last name if/when we married. It was not a decision we took lightly, but ultimately it was the best decision for our family.

I held off on doing anything until we were back from the honeymoon- didn't want to have mismatched identifications while I was out of the country, just in case. A week after the honeymoon I went on the night shift, so I decided that Friday morning when I finished my last overnight I'd head to the Social Security office.

If you haven't tried to go to the Social Security office lately, then you might be surprised like I was to discover they are only open from 9am to 3pm every day (and Wednesday only 9am to noon). Also, be prepared to wait. I know people have had mixed experiences, but based on the people I chatted with/overheard while waiting, 1-2 hours is a pretty standard wait at my local office.

I got there around 10am. You sign in at a kiosk and it prints out a little ticket with a number. Then you grab a seat and wait. And wait. I'm so glad I grabbed my Kindle on my way out for my shift the night before!

After about 30 minutes, they called my number (yippee!).... but when I got to the window she said she was just checking people in. Cue the sad trombone. There wasn't an option on the computer kiosk for Name Change, so I had to check Replacement Card > Other and they just wanted to know what the "Other" was.

Bummer. So I sat back down. And waited some more. After another hour, they called my name. Once at the window I handed over my Driver's License, Marriage Certificate, and completed form. (Here's the Social Security website's name change info and form) The form turned out to be unnecessary because she entered everything into a computer form instead. (But you might as well fill it out, just in case!) 5 minutes later I was done, with a receipt saying I would get my card in 2 weeks.

Even though I knew this was coming, it still wasn't easy to actually do it. The whole week before I went, I was trying to decide what to do. Take my last name as a middle name and drop my middle name? Drop my last name and keep my middle name? Drop them both, like my mom did? I felt kind of attached to my middle name (Rachel, for the record) even though it doesn't have any real significance. And I felt attached to my last name. In the end I decided 2 middle names was too long, and took my old last name as my middle name and dropped my original middle. Dan said we should name one of our kids Rachel, if I wanted to keep the name around.

One week later, my new card arrived... now, at least according to one government office, I am Mrs. Stephanie G. Perri!

I've appreciated the advice from the women who have gone through this before me, so I'm paying it forward... Here's the stats of Name Change Adventure #1:
What: Change my name with Social Security administration.
Time spent: ~20 minutes researching, 1.5 hours waiting.
Cost: $0*
Difficulty: Really easy. The form is straightforward and you don't need a lot of paperwork. It's tedious to wait, but once you're at the window it only takes 5 minutes and you're done!

Next up? Tomorrow I'm going to the Department of Public Safety (the Texas version of the DMV- why you always gotta be different, Texas?)

*I do have 2 certified copies of my marriage license, which cost $9 each and took about 10 minutes to obtain by walking into the county clerk's office. I wanted to make sure I was prepared- if I'm going to take time off of work to go to all these offices, I don't want to be turned away for being unprepared.
So far they haven't been necessary. If you mail in your Social Security card application, you have to send your original or certified copy of your marriage license with it, so it would be good to have a spare; if you go to the office they just look at it and hand it back.

1 comment:

  1. I work for Social Security and just wanted to say that not all office are that long of a wait! I know bigger offices in bigger cities have HUGE long waits, but some office really try to get you out - under an hour! They are working on a process do eventually do it online, fingers crossed! I'm glad besides waiting you didn't mind it too much!