Q: I am expecting twins soon. Could they have Social Security numbers in numerical order to make them easier to remember?
A: Decades ago before computerization this could have been done but it is not a good idea. With the random method used to issue Social Security numbers (SSN) today, the possibility of sequential numbers being issued to siblings is extremely small.
Having very different SSN’s helps protect their personal information.
Going back to the decades long before computers were in offices, local Social Security offices manually issued new Social Security numbers and I know families where the siblings have sequential SSN’s, likely due to the insistence of a parent. Back then, children did not routinely need a SSN until starting work. It was not until the Internal Revenue Code Amendments of 1961 that each taxpayer was required to furnish an identification number for tax reporting and in 1962 IRS adopted the SSN as its official taxpayer ID number. With this, children started getting SSN’s issued near birth.
Local issuance of SSN’s stopped long ago. Since 1972, new Social Security numbers are issued from a central location.
As the issuing of a new Social Security number became automated, procedures were used to prevent siblings, whether twins or not, from having their SSN be in numerical order.
To protect personal information and security of individual Social Security numbers, as well as to extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN, in 2011 a new method of issuing SSN’s was put into place. Since then, SSN’s are issued on a completely random basis without any indicators of where in the country the person lives.
When your children are born, the easiest and recommended method to request Social Security numbers for them is through the hospital. Called enumeration at birth, this lets parents apply for a SSN while still in the hospital, without additional paperwork or need to contact a Social Security office. Once the state registers the birth, information is sent directly to Social Security by the state and a SSN is issued for the child. Since birth information is provided to Social Security by your state, enumeration at birth is convenient for the parents making it very popular and recommended.
If not using the enumeration at birth, requesting a Social Security number for your newborn will take longer and be less convenient. Instructions are here and include waiting for the official state birth certificate to be issued and completing the SSN application. Those documents and ID for yourself then must be presented to a Social Security office.
There is no fee to request a Social Security number or any SSN activity. Beware of misleading, private for profit, sites that charge fees only to direct you to Social Security information.
On a related topic, annually near Mother’s Day the Social Security Administration publishes the most popular baby names of the prior year. Based on names used for new Social Security numbers, you can arrange the names by state, birth year or decade and changing popularity. The baby name pages also link to other useful information for new parents.