report naturalization

Reporting Naturalization To Social Security (SSA)

After the Naturalization oath ceremony, I’m sure you are eager to apply for a U.S. passport and register to vote, right? Well not so fast! There are a few other steps that need to be taken as well that are just as important. One of them is reporting naturalization to social security administration (SSA).

Why should you let SSA know about your new status?

Well, first it will update your citizenship in their system which will affect a few areas they handle such as social security benefits. It’s also required that you report your U.S. citizenship as soon as possible.

Case Example:

Amber has been a lawful permanent resident for almost 6 years before applying to naturalize. After waiting 10 months, she was scheduled for her civics test which she passed easily. She was then scheduled for her oath ceremony a month later.

She attended this ceremony with her close family members to celebrate her accomplishment. A few months pass and remembers that she didn’t inform Social Security of her status change so she went to her local office to report it.

The crazy thing is that no one really knows that they must report their naturalization to Social Security. Unless you regularly read USCIS.gov website, it is really hard to know what is required of you. This is why I try to post about topics that are important but aren’t widely known.

In some cases, you will be told at the oath ceremony that you must go to Social Security Administration to update your status from permanent resident to U.S. citizen. Other times, you may not know unless you do some research.fper

Who Should Report Naturalization To Social Security?

I’ll say that just about everyone should report their new citizenship to SSA. Of course, if you were born a U.S. citizen this would not apply to you so I’m just referring to immigrants who were previously permanent residents.

When you notify SSA about your naturalization, they will update their database to show you as a U.S. citizen instead of a green card holder. This database is shared with all federal agencies and many state agencies as well. This allows them to validate your U.S. citizen status with the federal and state governments.

Your status is also updated in the E-verify database that The Department of Homeland Security uses for employment eligibility.

Remember when you first got your social security card? It may have had some fine print stating that it was only good if you also had “work authorization”. After you update your status change, they may allow you to get an updated SSA card without this wording.

After your social security records are updated, it will make things much easier in the future to apply for an receive social security benefits that you’ve paid into.

In some states, certain disability benefits are only available to U.S. citizens. By updating your citizenship status with Social Security, you ensure that you are eligible for this benefits without jumping through hoops. These benefits include not only disability but also retirement benefits.

So, who should report naturalization to SSA? Pretty much everyone who becomes a new citizen through naturalization. There is not cost and it’s such a quick and easy process that I’m not sure why someone wouldn’t do it.

How To Report U.S. Citizenship To Social Security

To report your new citizenship status to Social Security, you must complete form SS-5. Once you complete the form, you can either mail or by visiting a local Social Security Administration office in person.

I highly recommend going in person because the process is faster.

If you do decide to go in person, be sure to bring the following:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (naturalization certificate or U.S. passport)
  • Another form of picture ID (drivers license)
  • Completed form SS-5

You can get the form there and complete it at their office but it may be easier to just print it out before heading to their office.

Finally, you will be interviewed by the Social Security Administration office staff. They will want to verify your citizenship and then update your records. Updating your social security records will not result in a new social security card being issued to you unless there were restrictions on your old card that I mentioned before.

If you would like a new social security card, make a request for one during your interview with the office staff.

Case Example:

Amir has recently become a U.S. citizen by completing the oath ceremony after submitting his N-400 application almost a year ago. He then decides to apply for a U.S. passport so he can travel without worrying about re-entry issues.

Six months later, Amir decides to go the the Social Security Administration to notify them that he is now a U.S. citizen. He takes his passport as proof as well as his driver’s license and the completed SS-5 form.\

Although it’s important to update the Social Security Administration there isn’t an issue if you forget for a few months. You may be asked why you didn’t update your status sooner. Just tell the truth and things should go smoothly.

Final Thoughts On Reporting Naturalization To SSA

After naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen, you are not done with the process. Sometimes, during the oath ceremony, you will be told to update your new status with Social Security but this is not guaranteed.

It’s up to you to update SSA that you are now a U.S. citizen.

Some new Americans wonder whether it’s necessary at all to update your status from green card holder to naturalized citizen. I’ll tell you that it benefits you more to do this.

Of course, there is no consequence if you completely for get and choose not to notify Social Security. Some of the benefits you get are access to some disability and retirement benefits that are only available to U.S. citizens.

Some people decide to apply for a U.S. passport first which is perfectly fine. Since updating your status only benefits you, it’s in your best interest to remember to do it at some point.

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