What Your Social Security Number Means

Social Security numbers came into existence after the Social Security Act in 1935. The purpose was to identify wage and salary records for the millionsof workers covered by the new law.This was a method for maintaining permanentand accurate earnings records for each person workingin employment covered by the Social Security program.Hence, the Social Security number.

The Social Security number (SSN) consists of ninedigits divided into three parts:


The first 3 numbers are the Area number; the second 2 are theGroup number, and the last 4 are the Serial number.

This unique configuration, plus the fact that an SSN isused for many purposes besides employment (incometax returns, bank accounts, drivers’ licenses, and soforth), makes the number easily recognizable. Althoughmost people believe that each part of the number has aspecial significance, few know what that significance is.

If you got your number before 1972, the Area number indicated the location(State, territory, or possession) of the Social Security officethat issued the number. Because an individual could apply for an SSN at any SocialSecurity office, the Area numberdid not necessarilyindicate where the person lived or worked.

If you got your number after 1972,the Social Security Administration has been issuing SSNs centrally from its headquarters in Baltimore. TheArea numbernow indicates the person’s State of residenceas shown on the SSN application.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. Before1964, Area numbers700-728 were assigned by the RailroadRetirement Board to workers covered by the Railroad Retirement Act. Area number586 is dividedamong American Samoa, Guam, the Philippines, andAmericans employed abroad by American employers. From 1975 to 1979, it was also used for Indochineserefugees. Area number 580 is assigned to persons applyingin Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The 9-digit number provides the capacity for assigningnearly 1 billion SSNs. To date, approximately 277million numbers have been issued, leaving about 75% still available. Only Florida has used up its originalallotment. Several other States (Arizona, California,and Mississippi), and Puerto Rico are expected to exhausttheir original allotment within the next 2 decades.

Additional Area numbers have been designated for theselocations. About 5-7 million new numbers are issuedeach year, but even at this rate there will be sufficientnumbers available for several generations to come.

Can you find your number:


State Area Number
Alabama 416-424
Alaska 574
American Samoa 586 (group numbers 20-28)
Arizona 526-527, 600-601
Arkansas 429-432
California 545-573, 602-626
Colorado 521-524
Connecticut 040-049
Delaware 221-222
District of Columbia 577-579
Florida 261-267, 589-595
Georgia 252-260
Guam 586 (group numbers 01-18)
Hawaii 575-576
Idaho 518-519
Illinois 318-361
Indiana 303-317
Iowa 478-485
Kansas 509-515
Kentucky 400-407
Louisiana 433-439
Maine 004-007
Maryland 212-220
Massachusetts 010-034
Michigan 362-386
Minnesota 468-477
Mississippi 425-428, 587-588
Missouri 486-500
Montana 516-517
Nebraska 505-508
Nevada 530
New Hampshire 001-003
New Jersey 135-158
New Mexico 525, 585
New York 050-134
North Carolina 237-246, 232 (group number 30)
North Dakota 501-502
Ohio 268-302
Oklahoma 440-448
Oregon 540-544
Pennsylvania 159-211
Puerto Rico 580 (group number20), 581-584,596-599
Rhode Island 335-039
South Carolina 247-251
South Dakota 503-504
Tennessee 108-415
Texas 149-467
Utah 528-529
Vermont 008-009
Virginia 223-231
Virgin Islands 580 (group numbers01-18)
Washington 531-539
West Virginia 132-236 (except group number 30)
Wisconsin 187-399
Wyoming 520
Railroad Retirement Board 700-728
Outside United States 586 (group numbers 30-58, 60-78)

The smaller numbers start in the East Coast and get larger as they move to the West Coast, with the exception of Washington, DC, US territories, etc.

Primary source: Social Security Bulletin

Brenda Gayle Bryant is the owner of the gayle group, is certified in QuickBooks and Microsoft Office, and is a past board member of both the National Speakers Association and American Society for Training and Development. She has been a small business coach for over 20 years and her passion is teaching people sound financial techniques.

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