Baby names & getting a SSN for your newborn

Every year near Mother’s Day, the Social Security Administration posts popular baby names for the prior year based on Social Security number (SSN) card applications.

If you are expecting a New Year’s baby in the family and still need a name, for ideas go to the SSA list of top baby names for 2012. The Items of Interest section at bottom left of the SSA homepage, www.socialsecurity.gov, has a direct link to the baby name page. Along with Social Security information about children, the baby names section links to other items of interest to parents. 

When compiling the annual list, different spellings of similar names are not combined. For example, the names Caitlin, Caitlyn, Kaitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelyn, and Katelynn are considered separate names and each has its own rank.

You can look up the popularity of a name nationally, by individual state or by year of birth and can even see how the popularity of a name has changed over time.

The easiest, recommended and very popular way to get your new baby a Social Security number is through the hospital when you apply for his or her birth certificate. This free and voluntary option, called Enumeration at Birth, lets the state agency that issues birth certificates share your child’s information with the Social Security Administration. Then, without additional paperwork or action from you, a Social Security number card is issued for your child and mailed to you based on the birth certificate information. This convenient method is faster and easier than waiting to apply directly with Social Security. See Social Security Numbers for Children, publication 05-10023, for more information.

Applying for your newborn’s Social Security number (SSN) at the hospital as part of his or her birth registration is definitely the recommended method. However, if you decide not to use Enumeration at Birth, a paper SSN application will need to be submitted to Social Security, in-person or by mail, with a certified, official copy of his or her birth certificate plus proof of your identity. Also free, the application and evidence details are at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Warning: if not using Enumeration at Birth through the hospital, make sure you are at the genuine Social Security website and not at a private, for profit site. There is no charge for any Social Security number action. To protect your newborn’s personal ID information, at the genuine www.socialsecurity.gov website you do not enter information online. Instead, you print the application for offline completion. 

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