Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Help Me Howard: Changing Social Security Number
They adopted a child, but wanted to change his social security number, so the birth mother couldn't track him down. The U.S. Government said no. Can they do that?
WSVN -- If you want the definition of cute, don't look in the dictionary. Just look at Dillon.
Dillon is adorable, and how he came to Cheryl and Darrell is amazing.
Cheryl Purchase: "We wanted our own children, and we couldn't have them, so we decided to become foster parents."
When Dillon was 14 months old he came into their home. Fourteen months after that, the judge made it official.
Darrell Purchase: "And then got pictures with the judge. All the documents were signed, and he officially became our son."
Now they are not Dillon's foster parents. They're just his mom and dad.
Cheryl: "When he puts those arms around us and says, 'I love you,' that just melts your heart."
As new parents, they realized they needed to do a few things to protect Dillon and themselves, like changing his last name and social security number.
Cheryl: "Well, there are several reasons. Number one, so that the birth family can't track him, and so they can't take that number and perhaps do something with it."
To make the changes, Cheryl headed over to the Social Security Administration, filled out the paperwork and waited.
Cheryl: "When I received his social security card, the name had been changed but the old number."
Cheryl went back and tried to change the number a second time. Again it wasn't done. So she headed back to the Social Security Office for the third trip and this time was told, you can't change it.
Cheryl: "He said, 'We don't arbitrarily hand out social security numbers,' and I proceeded to say, 'Well, I don't want the birth family to track him,' and he said that's not a good enough reason."
By this point, Cheryl and Darrell were becoming a little frustrated with the U.S. Government.
Darrell: "Extremely angry because this is supposed to be such a simple process, and I just couldn't understand why we were getting jerked around."
Now, they waited 14 months to legally adopt Dillon and were beginning to fear that they might have to wait longer to get through to the Social Security Administration.
Cheryl: "To get his number changed, that's the bottom line get it resolved, get his new number."
Patrick Fraser: But can you change your social security number? To find out, they dialed the number to Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, but rarely. The government doesn't like people to change the number because basically it's how they keep track of us. But there are exceptions. For example, if you are in the witness protection program or you adopt a young child. But, even then, as Cheryl and Darrel found out, it's not easy."
Instead of going through the local office, I called the Social Security Administration's headquarters in Atlanta.
They could not have moved any quicker.
That afternoon they spoke to Cheryl, and, a few days later, she got another social security card from Uncle Sam.
Cheryl: "Such a relief. Finally such a relief to finally get the new card with a new number."
Patrick Fraser: "I was told not only can you change your social security number after an adoption, you can do it if your number is being misused or you have religious or cultural objections to your original number."
Just go to the local social security office to fill out the paperwork.
Cheryl: "I've been working on this for about two months and, from the time I contacted Patrick Fraser with Help Me Howard, it's been approximately 10 days."
Patrick Fraser: "Our trick: Contact the right people at the right place and, thanks to them, Darrell now has the right number.
Cheryl: "I'm thrilled that Help Me Howard helped me. Oh, I'm tickled pink."
Patrick Fraser: Cheryl and Darrell are lucky to have Dillon, and he is very lucky to have them. Now, we mentioned you can change your social security number if there is misuse. That means if you have been the victim of identity theft that continues to be a problem or if you are the victim of domestic violence and want to hide from your ex-spouse.
Patrick Fraser: Numbers not adding up for you? Want to make some changes? Give us a call. We haven't changed our number.
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