How Is Your Social Security Number Determined?

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    • The term social security is typically referred to as a program that uses public funds to offer economic security to those who are eligible in the general public. Both employees and their employers must pay what is called a Social Security tax. Social Security taxes provide funds, benefits and support to those who are retired or those who qualify. How much your retirement benefits are will depend on your income throughout your lifetime and how much you have paid in Social Security tax. People with greater incomes tend to get more benefits, but also people with very little incomes get larger-than-normal benefits because they are in greater need than others. Social Security takes care of those in need of money post- retirement and also benefits those who qualify.


    • Contrary to popular belief, your Social Security number (SSN) is not determined in chronological order alone. It is also assigned by your geographic location. SSNs are nine digits long and consist of three different parts. The parts consist of three area numbers, two group numbers and four serial numbers.

    Number Type

    • Area numbers are the first three numbers written on your Social Security card. In the past, area numbers represented the state in which you first applied for your Social Security card. The East Coast represented the lowest numbers, and the West Coast represented the highest. In 1972, changes were made to the determination technique of area numbers. These changes are still in effect today. Area numbers are now determined by the zip code that is found on your original application form. Many people receive their SSN at birth, and their area number reflects the state in which they were born.

      Group numbers consist of two digits, 01 to 99, and are used to divide area numbers into smaller pieces. This process makes administration easier. For administrative reasons, group numbers issued earliest consist of the odd numbers from 01-09, and the even numbers from 10 to 98, with the area numbers assigned to states. Following those come the even numbers between 02 and 08, and the odd numbers between 11 and 99.

      Serial numbers are assigned consecutively. As they are the last four digits of your Social Security number, they range from 0001 through 9999.


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