Asking questions is a way to deepen your knowledge of a particular subject. Today I want to share a question I was asked recently and the answer.
Question: My twins recently received their Social Security numbers. There was no similarity in the numbers even though they applied at the same time. Can that be right?
Answer: The Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the way Social Security Numbers (SSNs) are issued on June 25, 2011. This change is referred to as “randomization.” The SSA developed this new method to help protect the integrity of the SSN. SSN Randomization will also extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide.
The SSA began assigning the nine-digit SSN in 1936 for the purpose of tracking workers’ earnings over the course of their lifetimes to pay benefits. Since its inception, the SSN has always been comprised of the three-digit area number, followed by the two-digit group number, and ending with the four-digit serial number. Since 1972, the SSA has issued Social Security cards centrally and the area number reflected the state, as determined by the ZIP code in the mailing address of the application.
There are approximately 420 million numbers available for assignment. However, the previous SSN assignment process limited the number of SSNs available for issuance to individuals by each state. Changing the assignment methodology extended the longevity of the nine digit SSN in all states.