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Women report challenges getting name change during pandemic

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Posted at 6:46 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 12:07:43-05

DENVER — Women know. Getting your name changed can be a hassle even in the best of circumstances. In a pandemic, it's proven just about impossible for one woman who is reaching out to Contact Denver7.

For some people, a trip down the aisle also means a much less romantic trip to the Social Security Administration for a name change.

"I was hoping that I'd be able to drop off my documents and just be able to pick them up that same day. That is not an option," said one Lakewood woman, who asked us to protect her privacy because of her ex-husband. She happily remarried last summer and started the name change process.

"So I am supposed to travel later this year, and I would like my documents to be correct," she said. "Right now, there's a mismatch between my work because I have changed my name and what is on all my documents."

Because of the pandemic, Social Security Administration offices are closed to most in-person visits, requiring people to mail their original marriage certificate and driver's license or passport.

"They said that it's about a five week turnaround time, which is a really long time to be without your driver's license. It's not even legal to drive without your license," she said. "Mailing in those really important documents is just a bad idea because I was afraid that they'd get lost in the mail."

We found it is a valid concern with recent reports of "misplaced documents" or sending them back to the wrong people.

Agents told our viewer to just get a certified copy of her license from the DMV, and the Colorado DMV has been inundated with requests. However, the agency "does not offer certified copies of Colorado drivers licenses."

Contact Denver7 reached out to the Social Security Administration, and a spokeswoman emailed this response:

"We are prioritizing requests for in-person Social Security number (SSN) services for individuals who need to update or correct their SSN information to obtain income, resources, or medical care or coverage, or other services or benefits."

The spokeswoman said she would reach out to the woman we profiled to address her concerns.

"A lot of people have gotten married in the last year. And so if you wanted to change your name, you just can't," she said. "I hope Contact Denver7 can shine a light on a problem a lot of people don't realize is happening."

Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here.