Yes, but it is not easy. If you can show that you are in danger due to domestic violence or other abuse, or you are experiencing significant, ongoing financial harm due to identity theft, Social Security can assign you a different number.
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 are changing your name, do that first; Social Security will need to see court approval of the change. If you are also seeking new Social Security numbers for your children, bring proof of custody. You’ll find more information in the Social Security pamphlet “New Numbers for Domestic Violence Victims.”
In cases of identity theft, you will need to demonstrate that:
- Your number is being used for fraudulent transactions.
- You are suffering ongoing harm because of it (a lowered credit rating, for instance, or a loan denial).
- You have exhausted all other means at your disposal to solve the problem.
The Social Security publication “Identify Theft and Your Social Security Number” has more details, as well as information on how to protect against identify theft and report and resolve problems.
You can’t change your Social Security number simply because your card has been lost or stolen, or to avoid bankruptcy or legitimate debts. The only other reasons Social Security will consider assigning a new number are:
- 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.
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.
[Editor’s note: Local Social Security offices are currently closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Social Security services are available online and by phone. If you have a "dire need situation" regarding your benefits or need to update information attached to your Social Security number, such as your name or citizenship status, you may be able to schedule an in-person appointment. See Social Security's coronavirus page or call your local office for more information.]
Keep in mind
- Changing your number does not affect the information in your Social Security file. The old and new numbers are cross-referenced to make sure your earnings history and other data is not lost.
- 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. You can get the block lifted by contacting Social Security.
Updated October 23, 2020
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