Social Security Denies Woman Ability To Add Entire Name To Her Card

12:18 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Genevieve Catlyn Williamson Heidenreich, wants her entire married name to go on her Social Security card.

But Social Security is saying no.

"I never in a million years would've thought they'd say, 'No you can't, you can't have your name,'" said Heidenreich at her Sacramento home.

Heidenreich, a graduate student in industrial organizational psychology at CSU Sacramento said she sees no reason why she shouldn't be able to have her entire name on the card she will carry the rest of her life.

But that's not how the folks who issue the card see it.

"He said to me, 'it doesn't fit.' And I said, 'what do you mean?' And he said, 'it doesn't fit, the computer won't let me move on,'" Heidenreich explained about her visit to the Sacramento Social Security office.

"He did look to the person sitting next to him and say, 'do you know if I can make this longer?' The answer was no."

Heidenreich called the agency's 800 number and was told it was a legal issue.

"I don't think this is a legal issue. I think it's a software or a type font space issue," she offered.

A Social Security representative explained for the agency's purposes, a legal name consists of a first and last name only.

"The first and middle name fields allow 16 characters each and the last name allows 21 characters," the statement added.

The agency also said the issue is governed by, "Public Law 100-235 when printing characters on SSN cards. This law requires all Federal databases to follow standards determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)."

Heidenreich doesn't buy it and compares the situation with officials shortening names at Ellis Island during waves of immigration a century ago.

"Being a melting pot, as we are, I'm sure there are many immigrants who come here with a name that's really long and so you just tell them to change it?" she asked.

"I don't see how any answer besides, ok sure, is acceptable. It's my name," Heidenreich said.

As for technical limitations, Heidenreich said she can't imagine any reason the process couldn't be changed.

"We're, you know, printing livers on 3D printers and I can't have my name? It's kinda wild."


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