Social Security Number (SSN)

Your Social Security number has probably been requested if you've ever applied for a job, loan, or credit card. Your Social Security number can be used as a key to access sensitive information and is, in many respects, just as much a part of you as your date of birth. It follows you from birth to death.

What is a Social Security Number ?

In the United States, a Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, temporary residents and permanent residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2).

An individual receives the number from the Social Security Administration, a independent agency of the US government. The Social Security number has evolved into a de facto national identity number for taxation and other purposes, despite its intended use as a way for the Social Security Administration to follow down individuals.

In the US, people are required to present their SSN in order to create bank accounts, apply for government benefits, get credit, make large purchases, and more. Your social security number is the secret to receiving significant upcoming benefits. Therefore, it's essential to safeguard both it and the card it's on. Make sure to only utilize it as directed by authority.

The majority of people are receive an SSN at birth. You can request that the SSA provide you one if you don't already have one. If your card was lost or destroyed, the SSA can also issue you a replacement.

By submitting Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Number Card, one can request a Social Security number. The Form SS-5 contains a detailed description of all the information needed to apply for a Social Security number, including proof of age, identity, and citizenship or immigration status in the United States. All people are eligible for free SSN card applications and issuance.

Key Facts of Social Security Number

  • A social security number is a special identification number connected to citizens of the United States.
  • A numerical identification code known as an SSN is given to residents and citizens of the United States in order to track income and calculate benefits.
  • In 1936, the SSN was established as a result of The New Deal.
  • The Social Security Administration is responsible for issuing social security numbers.
  • To U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and qualified nonimmigrant workers in the country, the SSA issues nine-digit Social Security Numbers.
  • SSNs are used by the Social Security Administration to identify people, track Social Security benefits, and report salaries to the government.
  • You must submit Form SS-5 to the Social Security Administration in order to obtain a Social Security number.
  • SSNs are open to unauthorized use by persons engaged in fraud and identity theft.

History of Social Security Numbers

As part of a plan created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to aid American residents in the years after the Great Depression, the Social Security number was created. In an effort to help Americans, particularly those over 65, achieve economic security, Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935. This included monetary incentives that would be determined by how much money they made prior to retiring.

As part of the New Deal Social Security policy, the Social Security Administration first issued social security numbers in November 1935. There were 25 million numbers distributed in just three months.

In order to track American workers' earnings histories, determine Social Security benefit eligibility, and calculate benefit amounts, the Social Security number was developed in 1936. Since then, there has been a significant increase in SSN usage.

The Social Security Number may currently be the most widely utilized numbering system in the US. Nearly every legal resident of the United States had received one of the roughly 450 million initial SSNs that the Social Security Administration (SSA) had issued as of December 2008. Due to the SSN's inherent universality, both the public and private sectors have adopted it as their primary method for identifying and acquiring data on individuals.

How Social Security Numbers Work ?

All Americans, including citizens, permanent residents, and temporary or working visitors, have a Social Security number, with very few exceptions. Due to the SSN's widespread use by businesses and governmental organisations, even non-working residents (citizens and non-citizens alike) can receive one.

Section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S. Code, Chapter 7, Subsection 405) establishes the legal framework for issuing a Social Security number. Nowadays, Social Security numbers are just a series of random digits. Prior to 2011, the numbers served a purpose, though. The person's birthplace or place of residence was indicated by the first three digits in those years. The year or month of birth was supposed to be represented by the following pair of integers.

The Social Security Administration decided to make it a group number instead out of worry that it could be falsified. Although there have been several instances where two persons received the same Social Security number, none have been utilized previously.

Who is Eligible for Social Security Number ?

The Social Security Administration needs proof of the following before issuing a Social Security number to you :
  • Are eligible to work in the United States.
  • Enrolled full-time student
  • Have been received formal offer of on-campus employment.
  • Have received approval for an off-campus job through academic training, optional practical training or curricular training.
Before providing a Social Security number, the Social Security Administration must also confirm your immigration status and paperwork with Immigration. To learn more about the SSN, please visit the SSA website.

Why is a Social Security Number Needed ?

A Social Security number is crucial to possess since it is directly related to any potential future benefits from the US government to which you may be eligible.

An individual's annual income and the number of years they have worked are tracked using their SSN. Whether they are related to retirement income, disability income, or health insurance, these numbers are necessary to calculate prospective financial benefits.

Employers ask for applicants' Social Security numbers as part of the application process when they begin their working lives. They give information about the salary payments connected to each Social Security Number and the deductions made for workers' Social Security and Medicare contributions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, employers disclose this data to all states with income taxes.

Other Uses of Social Security Number

Benefits of SSN are as follows :
  • To open a bank account
  • To apply for a federal loan
  • To apply for unemployment
  • As an identifier on tax returns
  • To get a driver's license
  • To obtain a passport
  • When enrolling in Medicare

What Does the Numbers in your Social Security Number Mean ?

Your SSN's numbers are set up specifically. Your nine-digit SSN is broken down into three components:
  • The first group of three digits is the area number.
  • The second group of two digits represents the group number.
  • The third group of four numbers represents the serial number.

1) Area Number :

The area number is the first set of three numbers. It symbolized the nation that issued it. Depending on how many people required SSNs, states can have more than one number. Area numbers for New Hampshire range from 001 to 003, while Hawaii's range is from 575 to 576.

People on the east coast typically have the lowest SSNs. As assignment shifted westward, area numbers increased. As a result, those living on the west coast typically have the highest SSNs.

The area number was delegated starting in 1972 based on the zip code connected to the mailing address (which isn't often the applicant's actual residence) on the application.

The initial area number assignment procedure had some exceptions:
  • Up until 1963, the numbers 700–728 were given to railroad workers.
  • American Samoa, Guam, the Philippines, Americans working abroad for American businesses, and Indochinese refugees received 586 each (from 1975 to 1979).
  • The Department of Homeland Security was given the numbers 729–733 for its Enumeration of Entry program for foreign nationals admitted to the country for the purpose of establishing permanent residency.
  • 666 will never be assigned.

2) Group Number :

The group number is the next set of two digits. The range of group numbers is 01 to 99. They weren't always given out in order. Originally, they stood in for the batches of 10,000 numbers that were distributed to a state's post offices in order to assist with SSN assignment. They arrived on behalf of the issuing office.

3) Serial Number :

The real serial number is represented by the final four digits of the third group. Within each group, they went from 0001 to 9999. There is no usage of the serial number 0000. SSNs started being assigned at random in 2011.

Over the course of its existence, SSN usage has also varied. For instance, in 1943, they were mandated to be used in order to identify people by federal government entities. Other significant occasions in the SSN's history include :
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began using SSNs for tax reporting in 1962.
  • As of 1970, banks were required to collect SSNs from every customer.
  • In 1983, you had to give banking companies your SSN to open an interest-bearing account.
  • SSNs were first printed on driver's licences, birth certificates, and death records in 1996, they were later deleted from these documents in 1999.
  • In 2008, legislation requiring the use of SSNs to identify people were repealed.

How to Get Social Security Number ?

You can receive a Social Security number and card by completing Form SS-5 from the Social Security Administration. The form includes instructions on how to get a new card, replace an old one, and modify or update SSN records.

The form includes a comprehensive list of requirements, such as proof of age, identity, and citizenship or immigration status in the United States.

A social security number or card can be obtained for free. A person's Social Security number may change under certain conditions.

Apply for Social Security Card Online Free :
  • Fill out a Social Security Card Application (Form SS-5)
  • Display original documents or copies that have been verified by the issuing agency as demonstrating.
After that, visit or mail your local Social Security office with your completed application and supporting documentation. Visit the SSA website for further details on the kinds of documents required to apply for an SSN.

Theft of Identity and Social Security Numbers

People regularly use their social security numbers to identify themselves and to apply for credit. They lack biometrics and rely on supporting paperwork to demonstrate their legitimacy. They can be used for fraud and identity theft.

Because scammers are everywhere, it's critical that you safeguard your information. By using the website of the Federal Trade Commission, you can steer clear of scams and report them to the appropriate authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions

If Your SSN Is Stolen, What Should You Do?
There are things you should think about taking right away if you learn that someone else is using your Social Security number or if you lose your card.
  • Have a security or fraud alert added to your credit report and get in touch with the credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) to make sure they are aware of the problem.
  • To report any suspected or actual fraudulent use of your number, get in touch with the Social Security Administration. Discuss the replacement process if your card is misplaced.
  • Keep an eye on your credit reports for any instances of unlawful usage of current credit accounts or unauthorized account opening.
  • If your card has actually been stolen or your number has been used, file a police report.

How Can I Check to See If My Social Security Number Is Being Used?
It is difficult to determine if your Social Security number has been compromised. Numerous folks are unaware till it is too late. There are a few ways to stay informed about any unexpected activity that might be connected to someone else using it, though. You can keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit reports, confirm your income with the Social Security Administration, and ask the IRS for tax transcripts.

What Can Someone Do With Your SSN?
One of the most crucial pieces of personal information you will ever own is your SSN. It's crucial that you maintain its confidentiality because of this. If someone has your SSN, they can use it to apply for employment, create bank accounts, gain credit, receive medical care, and steal government benefits while posing as you.

How Can a New Social Security Number Be Obtained?
Fill out Form SS-5 and submit it to the Social Security Administration together with two documents that attest to your age, identification, citizenship, or immigration status.

What Is the Wait Time for a Social Security Number?
As soon as it receives all required information and paperwork, the Social Security Administration mails each individual their social security card. This may require two to four weeks, particularly if the administration is experiencing problems.

What is the cost of a Social Security number?
A Social Security number and card are free of cost.

Are Social Security Numbers reused?
Over 453 million Social Security numbers have been distributed by the SSA, which also issues about 5.5 million new ones annually. You could assume that the SSA would run out of unique numbers to assign at such rate. However, even after a person's death, the SSA never reuses SSNs. The SSA claims there will be enough new numbers available as a result of the changeover to a random numbering scheme for many generations to come.

Does your SSN tell your age?
Although they are assigned consecutively, your relative age within a Group and an Area may be revealed by your Serial Number, which by itself says nothing about your location or age that the Group Number and Area Number don't already tell.

Can you change your Social Security Number?
Your Social Security number cannot be changed merely because your card was misplaced or stolen, to evade bankruptcy, or to settle valid debts. Social Security will only take the following into account when choosing a new number: Your family members' sequential numbers are making things difficult.

Does an Social Security Number expire? 
No, an SSN is a person's exclusive number for the duration of his or her life in the United States once it has been assigned.

If you don't have a Social Security number, what should you do?
The college or school ought to be able to provide you with another identifying number if you don't have a Social Security number. People with legal authorization to work in the US are typically given Social Security numbers.

How can I find my Social Security number online?
Your Social Security number is frequently listed on tax returns or financial papers. If your Social Security card is stolen or lost, you can also apply for a new one.

What is implied by your Social Security number?
If the SSA issued your number before to 2011, your area number may represent the state from which your SSN was issued or the ZIP code you applied from. However, there is no Social Security number decoder or technique to figure out what the digits indicate since that the system was switched to a random one in 2011.