Social Security is Changing How They Issue the Numbers
One of the quirky things I enjoy about doing taxes is that when I get someone’s Social Security number, I can tell where the person is from. The first three digits of your Social Security number are tied to a geographic area. The second two digits are a group number and the last four digits are a serial number. Social security numbers that were issued since 1972 can be tied directly to a state and is determined by the zip code on the address of the application. I can tell you 012 is Boston and the numbers go higher as you head west. (I can tell you a lot more, but it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I know what the social security number codes mean.)
That’s all going to change now. On June 25, 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted a new randomization program. It’s going to eliminate assigning the numbers based on geography. Part of this is due to the lack of new numbers available for use. Currently, there are approximately 420 million numbers available to be issued, but because the numbers are restricted by state, the numbers available were greatly limited. Randomizing the Social Security numbers opens up all of the available numbers for use, and keeps the SSN at nine digits instead of changing it to a larger number.
Another benefit to the randomization process is privacy. It will be more difficult for an identity thief to reconstruct someone’s Social Security number based on public information once the numbers are randomized.
Some numbers that still won’t be in use are 000, 666, or anything from 900-999. Only new social security numbers will be under the randomization process. You do not have to do anything about your Social Security Number if you already have one.
For more information about the Social Security randomization program, you can click this link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/employer/randomization.html