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:
XXX – XX – XXXX
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:
|American Samoa||586 (group numbers 20-28)|
|District of Columbia||577-579|
|Guam||586 (group numbers 01-18)|
|New Mexico||525, 585|
|North Carolina||237-246, 232 (group number 30)|
|Puerto Rico||580 (group number20), 581-584,596-599|
|Virgin Islands||580 (group numbers01-18)|
|West Virginia||132-236 (except group number 30)|
|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.