18 Fast Facts About Social Security Numbers

18 Fast Facts About Social Security NumbersFrom the September / October 2011 edition of The Quarter Roll
18 Fast Facts You Didnít Know About Social Security Numbers
By Len Penzo

This weekend I was looking through the safe that holds all of my most important documents, like family birth certificates, insurance policies and the secret recipe for momís sauce, when I ran across my Social Security card.

Now Iíll wager that, if you poll a room full of people at a triple-keg Super Bowl party, over half of them wouldnít be able to tell you the license plate number of their car ó and thatís before the kick-off. However, if you asked those same folks to recite their Social Security number, they would all be able to do it forward and backward ó even after the kegs are empty.

If youíre like me, maybe youíve wondered if there was any rhyme or reason to how Social Security card numbers are determined. Well, wonder no more, because while you were out enjoying the weekend, I was sitting here in my chair researching the story behind our Social Security numbers. I know. Donít say a word.

Anyway, hereís what I found out:

1. Since 1936, over 420 million different Social Security numbers have been issued.

2. Over 5.5 million new numbers are assigned every year.

3. The first three digits of a Social Security number are known as the area number. Area numbers assigned before 1972 reflect the state where you applied for your number; otherwise, they are based upon the Social Security card application mailing address zip-code.

4. Some people believe the next two digits, called the group number, helps identify a personís race. It doesnít.

5. The two-digit group number was actually created as way to organize Social Security Administration filing cabinets into sub-groups to make them more manageable.

6. The last four digits on a Social Security card are serial numbers that are issued consecutively within a group from 0001 to 9999.

7. Area numbers are assigned geographically with the lowest numbers in the northeast and the highest in the northwest. That practice will no longer apply, however, after a new randomized assignment methodology officially goes into effect on June 25, 2011.

8. Based upon the original assignment criterion, 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 social security number 001-01-0001 could be assigned to Social Security Board Chairman John G. Winant, who was a three-time governor of the state.

9. Winant eventually declined the honor of having the lowest social security card number. As a result, it eventually found its way to Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire.

"Len Penzo runs the irreverent, eponymous personal-finance blog, Len Penzo dot Com. The blog covers money with a strong emphasis on personal responsibility. It was honored by Kiplinger as a Best Money Blog in 2010."

Read the rest of the story in the September / October 2011 edition here

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