Effective June 25, 2011, this new method assigns SSNs randomly without regard to geography or date of issue. This change is referred to as “randomization.” The SSA is developing 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 reflects the state, as determined by the ZIP code in the mailing address of the application.
There are currently 435 million numbers available for assignment. However, the current SSN assignment process limits the number of SSNs that are available for issuance to individuals by each state. Changing the assignment methodology will extend the longevity of the nine digit SSN in all states. SSN randomization will affect the SSN assignment process in the following ways:
- It will eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN, currently referred to as the area number, by no longer allocating the
area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.
- It will eliminate the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List will be frozen in time and can be used for validation
of SSNs issued prior to the randomization implementation date.
- Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced for assignment excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.
No action is required on your part. We are working with the SSA and repositories to determine what impact if any SSN Randomization will have on SSN alert messages. Please note that for all SSNs issued PRIOR to June 25, 2011, Credit Technologies will still be able to validate SSN information based on state and date ranges.