Social Security Administration Changes How It Issues Social Security Numbers

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has changed the way it issues Social Security numbers (SSNs). Instead of using the first three digits to indicate the state of issuance based on the zip code of the applicant, its new method will be through a randomized assignment methodology that it calls simply “randomization”. Begun on June 25, 2011, the SSA advises that its goals with this change are to increase the pool of numbers in every state and to protect the integrity of the system. Presently, there are about 420 million numbers than can be assigned.

As background, assignment of nine digit Social Security numbers began in 1936 to track workers’ earnings. Today’s nine digit SSNs are composed of a three digit area number followed by a two digit group number and then a four digit serial number. According to the SSA, no current area number has nor will start with 000, 666, or 900-999. No group number has nor will start with 00, and no serial number has or will begin with 0000. SSA advises that with the elimination of geographic significance of area numbers, some previously unassigned numbers will begin being used. Increasing the pool of numbers available will permit the SSA to continue to issue Social Security numbers with nine digits. Randomization eliminates the geographical significance of the area number that will no longer be allocated to states for assignment.

Another benefit of randomization is to make each SSN more secure by increasing the difficulty in reconstructing a SSN using information available to the public.

There will be no change to persons who currently have SSNs; the SSA will not be issuing new numbers to existing cardholders, nor will it be issuing new SS cards. Randomization only affects new applicants for SSNs.

Some businesses and government institutions might have to update systems to account for the randomized new Social Security numbers.

Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit