How to Correct Incorrect Social Security Numbers

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An incorrect Social Security number (SSN) can cause problems for both you and your employer. The Social Security Administration (SSA) needs your correct SSN to record your lifelong earnings history. This history determines your future eligibility and benefit amounts for retirement, disability and survivors programs.

Your SSN may be reported incorrectly for three reasons: either your SSN card is incorrect because of an error you have made; your employer made a mistake in reporting your name or SSN to the SSA but your SSN card is correct; or your SSN card is correct and your employer reported your information accurately but SSA has or reports a different name or number for you.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of your marriage certificate if applicable
  • Copy of any legal name change decree if applicable
  • Copy of your most recent W-2 from your employer

Your Mistake

If the error appears to have been a mistake you made when you obtained your Social Security card with the result that your card doesn't show your correct name or SSN, contact your local Social Security office (see Resources).

Bring your birth certificate and any other required documentation, such as your marriage certificate or legal name change decree, to your local Social Security office. Check to see whether the SSA needs to see the original or a notarized copy of these documents before your meeting.

Provide your employer with the correct information as shown on your corrected Social Security card as soon as possible.

Your Employer’s Mistake

Contact your local Social Security office if your employer made an error in your name or your SSN so that there is a mismatch between what’s on your W-2 form (your wage and tax statement from your employer) and what’s on your Social Security card.

Follow all instructions from your local Social Security office.

Provide your employer with the correct information as shown on your Social Security card.

Check also with your employer to see if your company has its own form available for you to report your correct Social Security information. Do this in addition to contacting your local Social Security office as it would be for your employer’s records only.

The Government’s Mistake

If there is a mismatch with your name and SSN between what’s on your SSN card and W-2 and what the Social Security Administration reports, contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 to find out why SSA records don’t match what was reported for you by your employer.

Follow the SSA instructions on how to get your records corrected.

Provide your employer with the correct information as shown on your Social Security card if your employer needs verification of your SSN.

Tips & Warnings

  • When entering SSNs for anyone listed on your tax return, make sure the numbers are entered exactly as they appear on the Social Security cards. Incorrect or transposed numbers can cause delay in the processing of your return and the speed of your refund.
  • Each year, your employer sends Copy A of Form W-2 to the SSA. The SSA matches your name and SSN on Form W-2 against its database of all SSNs issued. When a match is found, the earnings information from the W-2 is recorded in your lifelong earnings history.
  • If you are an employer, you may be fined penalties by the IRS for incorrectly reporting SSNs on W-2 forms, so enter the Social Security numbers of new hires carefully in your payroll records.

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