Most people know their Social Security number (SSN) and what it is used for. However, not many know what their SSN means. If you received your SSN before 2011, your SSN is not just a random combination of numbers. Each set of numbers has a specific meaning, and your individual SSN was generated based on several different factors. An SSN is made up of nine digits, divided by into sets by hyphens. The first set is made up of three numbers called the area numbers. While the second set, consisting of two digits, are the group numbers. The final four numbers are the serial numbers. We’ll show you what each set represents and what the numbers in your Social Security number mean.
What do the area numbers in my Social Security number mean?
Originally, the first three numbers of an SSN indicated which state the individual applied for their card in. The numbers started off low on the eastern side of the country and grew as you moved westward. So, those on the east coast had the lowest numbers, while people on the west coast received the highest. However, in 1972, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began assigning area numbers based on the ZIP code of the application’s mailing address. Since most parents apply for a Social Security card for their children soon after they are born, your area number most likely represents the state you were born in.
What do the group numbers in my Social Security number mean?
The second set numbers in your SSN are your group numbers. These two digits don’t have any real meaning or significance. They are simply there to divide an area’s numbers into smaller blocks, making administration easier for the SSA.
What is the meaning of my SSN’s serial numbers?
The SSA issued the last four numbers in order, from 0001 to 9999, within each individual group. Your serial numbers are your personal identification numbers within your area and group.
Why were Social Security numbers developed?
After the Social Security Act passed in 1935, the U.S. government needed a way to track each person’s earnings. Otherwise, it would be nearly impossible to accurately determine who qualified for Social Security and what benefits they were entitled to. So, they introduced the Social Security number.
Social Security number randomization
As previously mentioned, Social Security number explanation above only applies to SSNs issued before June 25, 2011. On this date, the SSA changed the way they generated SSNs. Now, they are randomly generated. So, if you received your SSN on or after that date, then the numbers in your Social Security number mean nothing at all. The SSA changed their method of issuing SSNs for a couple of reasons. First, it allowed them to accommodate for a growing population. With the previous method, both large and small, highly and lowly populated states all had about this same number of possible SSNs. Obviously, this wouldn’t work well for modern times. The new method allows them to draw from a nationwide pool of random SSNs.
Second, it made Social Security numbers more secure. Advances in technology make it fairly easy to predict someone’s SSN, if you know were they were born. Since we use our SSNs as a personal identifier, it’s become much more important to keep them secure. The SSA also made additional number combinations available for use, such as 000, 666, and 900-999. Now, there are 420 million possible SSNs, more than enough to accommodate the U.S. population for years to come.
Is it important to have a Social Security number?
Yes, an SSN is a very important thing to have. While they started out as a way to determine Social Security benefits, SSNs now serve as a form of identification in many different settings. You will likely need a Social Security number in order to:
- Start a new job
- Register for school
- Open a bank account
- Receive healthcare
- Secure a mortgage or rental
- Apply for a credit card
- Qualify for Social Security benefits
- Apply for a driver’s license or passport
As you can see, a Social Security number is an important part of everyday life. If you don’t have one, it’s time to apply.
How do I apply for an SSN?
You can apply for a Social Security number with the SSA. However, it can be a complicated process. From confusing forms, to unclear requirements, to long lines and wait times, it’s often a frustrating, time-consuming experience. That’s why we developed an efficient, streamlined system to make it faster and easier to get an SSN or replacement Social Security card. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions, then we take it from there. We prepare your application, determine exactly which forms of ID and supporting documents you will need, and assemble your entire application package for you. In addition, we provide you with detailed, clear directions on how to submit your application and a secure, trackable envelope to send it to the SSA. There’s no confusion, and you always know just where your important documents are. We also use our comprehensive database to determine which SSA office you should send your package to, in order to get the fastest processing time. You will receive your new Social Security card in the mail in as little as two weeks after the SSA accepts and processes your application. Our system is safe, secure, and fast, and you don’t even have to leave your house. If you need an SSN or a new Social Security card, click here to start your application today.