Social Security Numbers or SSNs as they are more commonly called, are neither random nor are they a useless string of meaningless numbers. Each SSN as three elements. The first three digits are termed the “Area”. The next two digits are the “Group” and the last four are the “Serial”. Each element has a purpose and reveal something the SSN’s owner. The first three digits, the Area reveals where the SSN was likely issued:
|SSN||State||SSN||State or Territory|
|035-039||Rhode Island||501-502||North Dakota|
|232-236||West Virginia||525, 585
|387-399||Wisconsin||577-579||District of Columbia|
|440-448||Oklahoma||729-733||Enumeration at Entry|
|237-246, 587-665, 667-679,
|Officially: Not Issued|
|000, 666, 900-999||Never valid numbers|
This number scheme was abandoned on June 25, 2011 because of the lack of Group and Serial numbers remaining in several Areas. The first three digits of an SSNs issued today are randomized to the extent “Area” numbers remain available.
The following SSNs are invalid and do not exist:
- AREA, GROUP, or SERIAL composed of all zeroes (e.g, 000-45-6789, 123-00-6789, 123-45-0000)
- AREA number 666 (never have and never will be issued)
- AREA numbers 700 to 728 (Railroad workers through July 1, 1963, then discontinued)
- AREA numbers 900-999 (no longer valid SSNs, but were used briefly for program purposes when state aid to the aged, blind and disabled was converted to a federal program administered by SSA)
For administrative reasons, GROUP numbers are NOT assigned sequentially but rather follow this order:
ODD, 01 to 09 (01, 03, … 09)
EVEN, 10 to 98 (10, 12, … 98)
EVEN, 02 to 08 (02, 04, … 08)
ODD, 11 to 99 (11, 13, … 99)
Check the latest Social Security Number Monthly Issuance Table at the SSA’s Website for the highest group number assigned for each SSN Area. For example, if the highest group number assigned for area 999 is 72 (within the EVEN, 10 to 98 range), then we know that alleged number 999-04-1234 is an invalid number because group number in the EVEN, 02 to 08 range have not yet been assigned.
SSNs Used in Advertising
Specific SSNs have been used in advertising over the years, which has rendered those numbers invalid. The most famous instance is that of the E. H. Ferree Company in Lockport, New York, which in 1938 decided to promote its product by showing how a Social Security card would fit into its wallets. Unfortunately, that number belonged to Hilda Schrader Whitcher, a company secretary. Unbeknownst to Ms. Whitcher, a company vice president had decided to use her real SSN on the sample cards. Over time the number that appeared, 078-05-1120 was claimed by over 40,000 people as their own and Ms. Whitcher was issued a new number.
The Social Security Administration now recommends that people showing Social Security cards in advertisements use numbers in the range 987-65-4320 through 987-65-4329. According to one source the following SSNs have been used in ads:
002-28-1852 042-10-3580 062-36-0749 078-05-1120 095-07-3645
128-03-6045 135-01-6629 141-18-6941 165-16-7999 165-18-7999
165-20-7999 165-22-7999 165-24-7999 189-09-2294 212-09-7694
212-09-9999 306-30-2348 308-12-5070 468-28-8779 549-24-1889
In Case You Are Interested
- Since 1936, over 420 million different Social Security numbers have been issued.
- Over 5.5 million new numbers are assigned every year.
- Based upon the original SSN assignment scheme, one would naturally expect a Maine resident to have the lowest Social Security number ever issued. However, New Hampshire was ultimately given the 001 area number designator so that SSN 001-01-0001 could be assigned to then Social Security Board Chairman John G. Winant, who was a three-time governor of the state. Winant eventually declined the honor of having the lowest social security card number. As a result, it eventually assigned to Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire.
- Officially, the first social security number issued was 055-09-0001 and it was assigned to John David Sweeney. Sweeney died of a heart attack in 1974 at the age of 61; ironically, he never received a single penny of Social Security benefits.
- Even though issued SSNs aren’t reused, the Social Security Administration says the current numbering system is capable of providing enough new numbers for several generations into the future. That suggests that SSNs will still be available until 2030¾about 4 years before SSA’s combined trust funds runs dry.