What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.
Social Security Number: How To Get One
A Social Security number may be obtained by filling out Form SS-5 from the Social Security Administration. The form covers obtaining an original card, replacing a card, and changing or correcting SSN records. A full list of requirements are listed in the form. There is no cost for obtaining a card or number. In some circumstances, an individual may change their Social Security number.
Social Security Number Structure
Social security numbers are issued by the US Social Security Administration, and are used to help identify the citizens of the United States by number. These important 9-digit numbers provide information that can be used to help people obtain credit, apply for a job, and identify themselves for the purposes of taxation. They also prove that individuals are American citizens. All social security numbers start with three digits, then two in the middle, and finish with four numbers. The first three numbers are called the area number. The area number shows the region or state where a person was born, and was first adopted in 1936. Here are some links to more information about social security area numbers:
The group numbers are the two middle numbers of a social security number. These numbers do not represent the geographical region, but they do represent the order in which a number was issued for a particular region. For example, if someone was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, then the area number represents that geographical part of the state, and the group number shows the order in which the person was born within that particular area. This number can be reissued at the discretion of the Social Security Administration. The numbers 00 are never assigned as a group number, so if these numbers are submitted they will usually be flagged as fraudulent. More information on group numbers can be found here:
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Tell Us Your Social Security Number And We’ll Tell You What State You Were Born In Find Out What Else We Can Figure Out About You From Your Digits
Lane V. Erickson/ShutterstockIf you were born after 1935, youve probably had a Social Security Number for your entire life, and youve probably had it memorized since the first time you ever wrote it out . For anyone born before 1935, either you or your parents likely applied for a social security card in person at a local Social Security Office, following President Franklin Delano Roosevelts passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 (which was designed to provide a safety net for the elderly and disabled in the form of an annuity funded through income taxes specifically earmarked for that purpose.
Since its inception, the number has always been made up of the following three parts:
- The first three digits, which comprise the Area Number
- The next two digits, which comprise the Group Number
- The last four digits, which comprise the Serial Number
Given that the social security number format was designed to track unique and sensitive personal records of every American, the first five digits are amazingly transparent and can reliably reveal certain information about most cardholders. Here is what they can reveal about you:
Expanding Uses Of The Ssn
The original purpose of the SSN was to enable the Social Security Board to maintain accurate records of the earnings of individuals who worked in jobs covered under the Social Security program. The card was never intended to serve as a personal identification documentthat is, it does not establish that the person presenting the card is actually the person whose name and SSN appear on the card. Although SSA has made the card counterfeit-resistant, the card does not contain information that would allow it to be used as proof of identity. However, the simplicity and efficiency of using a unique number that most people already possess has encouraged widespread use of the SSN by both government agencies and private enterprises, especially as they have adapted their recordkeeping and business systems to automated data processing. Use of the SSN as a convenient means of identifying people in large systems of records has increased over the years and its expanded use appears to be an enduring trend. Generally, there are no restrictions in federal law precluding the use of the SSN by the private sector, so businesses may ask individuals for an SSN whenever they wish .
With the many purposes legally requiring an SSN, the need for a U.S. resident to possess one has become nearly universal. The universality of SSN ownership has in turn led to the SSN’s adoption by private industry as a unique identifier.
Why The Last Four Digits Of Your Ssn Are So Important
The Social Security Number is not something you should give away. These numbers started being used back in 1936. Ever since they served as a way to verify someones identity. However, at the time, there wasnt any technology as advanced as we have today. So, there were no computers or Internet. For this reason, people did not worry about identity theft.
The numbers were given based on the geographic region, which meant that the first numbers would tell you where someone was from. Meanwhile, the middle two digits are random. But nowadays, a lot of companies ask for the last four digits of the SSN, as they probably think that this is less likely for someone to steal identities.
When someone wants to steal the identity of a person, they will do whatever it takes to do it. So, only having the last four digits is not going to stop them. They can even use those digits to take your identity away.
Because of this, in certain states, there are some limitations regarding how companies can use your SSN. In places like Rhode Island, for instance, you will not be asked for your last four digits.
What Are The Numbers On The Back Of A Social Security Card
The numbers on the reverse of a Social Security card also have their own conspiracy theories attached to them. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones did some digging after reading an article by his colleague David Corn who was told the numbers indicate the bank that owns you. According to the story, when you are born you are put up as collateral for the banks.
Drum provides some blogposts from those searching for similar information and led down the conspiracy path. However, his research uncovered that once again, the numbers have no sinister use but are simply a tool for managing Social Security numbers. A federal worker told him the numbers are for inventory control so that every blank card printed can be accounted for.
Social Security cards are printed much like dollar bills, even on banknote paper when possible, and have a serial number along with other security features to prevent them from being counterfeited. The number on the back can help the agency verify if a particular card is legitimate or false when checked against the Social Security Administrations database then correlated with the social security number and name on the card.
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The Story Of The Social Security Number
The use of the Social Security number has expanded significantly since its inception in 1936. Created merely to keep track of the earnings history of U.S. workers for Social Security entitlement and benefit computation purposes, it has come to be used as a nearly universal identifier. Assigned at birth, the SSN enables government agencies to identify individuals in their records and businesses to track an individual’s financial information. This article explores the history and meaning of the SSN and the Social Security card, as well as the Social Security Administration’s SSN master file, generally known as the Numident. The article also traces the historical expansion of SSN use and the steps SSA has taken to enhance SSN integrity.
The author is with the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration.
Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank SSA Historian Larry DeWitt, along with Kitty Chilcoat and the other reviewers in the Office of Legislation and Regulatory Affairs for their excellent suggestions. The author also wishes to thank the many employees in the Office of Income Support Programs and the Office of Earnings and Enumeration and Administrative Systems who reviewed the article for technical correctness.
The findings and conclusions presented in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Social Security Administration.
Types Of Social Security Cards
Four different classifications of Social Security cards are issued. Such cards are issued by geographic location to:
There are two restricted types of Social Security cards:
- One reads “not valid for employment.” Such cards cannot be used as proof of work authorization, and are not acceptable as a List C document on the I-9 form.
- The other reads “valid for work only with DHS authorization”, or the older, “valid for work only with INS authorization.” These cards are issued to people who have temporary work authorization in the U.S from the Department of Homeland Security — the nation’s border agency. They can satisfy the I-9 requirement, if they are accompanied by a work authorization card.
The cards commonly display the cardholder’s name and number.
The new SSN card design utilizes both covert and overt security features created by the SSA and GPO design teams.
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Its Ultimately About Trust
Employers primarily run background checks as a baseline for establishing trust with a new employee. While a social security number does not tell the whole story, it provides a crucial foundation for verifying identity and building critical trust, without which any background report is essentially unreliable.
Where Can I Find My Social Security Number
A Social Security number is a nine-digit number that is generally issued to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain nonimmigrants. The Social Security Administration issues the number to track individuals employment for Social Security benefits. However, over time, the SSN has become a de facto national identification number for taxation and other purposes. Its also a common component on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services forms.
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The Area Number Prior To June 25 2011
If you were issued a social security card before 1972, your Area Number was tied to the state where your card was applied for. In the early days of card issuance, many adults applied for their social security at social security offices near where they worked. If not, then they tended to apply for them near their homes. Children tended to have their applications made on their behalf by their guardian. In 1972, Social Security centralized its operations, and until June 25, 2011, the Area Number tied to the zip code of the mailing address on the card application.
Accordingly, for anyone born between 1936 and 2011, the Area Number could fairly reliably indicate, at the very least, the persons birth state. And if you were born prior to June 25, 2011, you can see how your Area Number probably ties to where you were living as a baby, by checking this listing.
What Does Your Ssn Reveal About You
Not much. The first three numbers might tell where you were when you applied, or where you had a mailing address when you applied, or where your employer was based when you applied, or nothing about your whereabouts at all. They dont tell anything about where you are now, or where youve been since applying. The second number gives a very rough idea at what point in the last 100 years you might have received your number. But in order to guess that, someone would have to know how many numbers were given out with a specific area number over each of the last 80 years.
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How Are Social Security Numbers Formulated
Most of us dont really know what our Social Security number means. Why is one persons number so very different from someone who was born in the same hospital a few years later? Do they recycle Social Security numbers? What do those three sequences represent? And what is a Social Security number?
According to the Social Security Administrationshistory of Social Security numbers, the numerical sequence was the system the three-memberSocial Security Board finally agreed on to enable them to track workers earnings throughout their lives. They couldnt just use peoples names and addresses, because people move around. Besides, using just names and addresses could lead to a lot of confusion. As one 1937 article noted:
A recent news account states that the Fred Smiths of New York City have had so much trouble in being identified by their creditors, the courts, and even their friends, that they have joined together in forming the Fred Smiths, Incorporated, to serve as a clearing house for their identification problems.
So, they had to come up with a more unique identifier. The Social Security number, now used by most agencies and businesses to identify individuals, is the one they landed on.
How To Get A Social Security Card
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Are Social Security Numbers Reused
The SSA has issued over 453 million SSNs and supplies about 5.5 million new numbers per year. At that rate, you may think the SSA would run out of unique numbers to assign.
However, the SSA does not reuse SSNsnot even after a person dies. Because of the switch to a randomized numbering system, the SSA reports having enough new numbers available for many future generations.
List Of Social Security Area Numbers
List showing the geographical location of the first three digits of the Social Security numbers assigned in the United States and its territories from 1973 until June 25, 2011. Repeated numbers indicate that they have been transferred to another location or they’re shared by more than one location.
On June 25, 2011, the SSA changed the SSN assignment process to “SSN randomization”. SSN randomization affects the SSN assignment process. Among its changes, it eliminates the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN, previously referred to as the Area Number, by no longer allocating the Area Numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.
|SSN area number|
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Social Security Numbers Used For Racial Discrimination
The claim that businesses, universities and banks can tell an applicants race based on their Social Security Number goes back to at least to 1999.Snopes.com looked into this at the time but the myth, like the former, made a comeback during the pandemic on one of the favorite platforms for spreading false information, Facebook. The Social Security Administration, aware of the myth, why they think the idea came about.
Posts on Facebook claimed, as over 20 years ago, that the fifth digit of your Social Security number indicated your racial identity. According to the myth, if the fifth digit of your Social Security Number is an odd number then youre white and if it is even youre non-white. The Social Security Administration ventures that this is because the fifth digit is in the series of numbers referred to as the group number. The agency points out that when applying for a Social Security Number it is voluntary to mark on the form what ethnicity you relate to.
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How To Evaluate A Social Security Number:
Here we have told how to decipher Social Security Number . We have explained how to evaluate and calculate Social Security Number . According to the Social Security Administration, your nine-digit Social Security Number is divided into three parts:
1. The first three digits of your SSN are known as the area number. Until June 25, 2011, this was generally the State or territory where your SSN was assigned. After that, the Social Security Number numbers were randomly assigned.
2. The second two numbers in your Social Security Number are known as the group numbers. These group numbers actually do not have any geographical or data significance.
3. The third set of four numbers in your Social Security Number is simply the numerical sequence of digits 0001 to 9999 issued within each group.
In this way, if you know the meaning of Social Security Number you can tell a lot about the person with his Social Security Number . Just like if you know the first three numbers of anyones Social Security Number , you can often tell in which State they were born, or at the least, one of the States where they once lived.
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