Clients who are pursuing Social Security benefits often raise general questions regarding the Social Security system. One common question is: How are Social Security numbers assigned? Read on to learn the answer to this question.
Why Do We Use Social Security Numbers?
A Social Security number is necessary for many reasons. You need one to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, and receive certain other government services.
How Are Social Security Numbers Assigned?
Several myths and urban legends exist regarding how Social Security numbers are assigned. In reality, these numbers are assigned according to a system. Each number is made up of component parts which are assigned for different reasons. To fully understand the system, you must understand the components of a Social Security number.
What Are the Components of a Social Security Number?
A Social Security Number is a nine digit number. It is composed of three parts:
- Area Number—the first set of three digits.
- Group Number—the second set of two digits.
- Serial Number—the last set of four digits.
The Area Number is assigned according to a person’s geographical region. When the Social Security system was established, Social Security cards were issued by local Social Security offices. The Area Number represented the state in which the card was issued. Since a person could apply for a card in any Social Security office, this number did not necessarily reflect the applicant’s home state.
In 1972, the Social Security Administration began assigning Social Security numbers and issuing cards from a central office. Since then, the Area Number has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on a person’s application. The Area Number still does not necessarily reflect the applicant’s state of residence, however, since a person’s mailing address may not be the same as the person’s home address.
Area Numbers generally were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving westward. Therefore, Americans from the east coast typically have the lowest numbers while Americans from the west coast have the highest numbers.
Within each area, Group Numbers are assigned, although not in consecutive order. The order in which the Group Numbers are assigned is based on administrative and bookkeeping reasons.
Within each group, Serial Numbers run from 0001 through 9999. These are assigned consecutively.
Some people question whether Social Security numbers are reassigned after the number holder dies. The Social Security Administration reports that no numbers have been reassigned. In fact, not only have no numbers been reassigned, but the current numbering system should provide enough new numbers for several generations.
For Help Receiving Social Security Benefits, Contact Our Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you would like to speak to a Chicago Social Security disability lawyer or a Chicago Supplemental Security Income lawyer, contact our attorneys. You may reach us by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email. We would like to help you.