I ran across some interesting information recently. It seems that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will let you change your Social Security number under certain circumstances.

Why would you want to? Well, some people who should consider it are victims of family violence or abuse. To escape from their situations, such people often have to get away -- in essence, hide. But if the person harassing them knows critical information about them, such as their Social Security number, the harasser may be able to track them down, despite any new identity and life they are trying to establish. That's why a new number can help.

It shouldn't be opted for lightly, though. Understand the ramifications first. The SSA explains:

Applying for a new number is a big decision. It may impact your ability to interact with federal and state agencies, employers and others. This is because your financial, medical, employment and other records will be under your former Social Security number and name (if you change your name). If you expect to change your name, we recommend you do so before applying for a new number.

Consider also that your credit rating will be under your old name and number, and losing that could hurt your ability to get a needed loan, or at least to get the best possible terms for a loan.

For information about changing your Social Security number, visit the SSA website.

Our friends at the SSA also provide other information and assistance about Social Security. For example, it's helpful to have an idea of what we might expect from Social Security in retirement. The SSA sends out statements of estimated benefits once a year or so; if you haven't received yours, you can request one.

We shouldn't count on just Social Security to fund our retirement, though. Look at your big picture and plan conservatively so that you don't end up with nasty surprises at retirement time. If you'd like some help, my favorite retirement information resource is Robert Brokamp's Rule Your Retirement newsletter, which you can try for free. Recent articles have looked at the effects of inflation on one's retirement, asset allocation and minimizing taxes, the prudent way to withdraw money in retirement, top dividend-paying stocks, and lots more.

Selena Maranjian is a longtime Fool contributor.