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What Do The Social Security Numbers Mean?

In case you were wondering, the numbers that make up your social security number are not a random assortment of numbers. Each number is there for a reason. Each set of digits is designed to represent something. When the sets are combined to make your social security number, the result is something that can be tracked and managed across the government infrastructure.

Understanding Social Security Numbers

One of the reasons why the system behind the creation of social security numbers has endured for so long is because of its simplicity. As you learn more about this system, it's likely that you will be able to appreciate its simplicity for yourself.

Basically, any social security number can be broken down into three sets of digits:

  • The first three digits are known as the area number.
  • The next two digits are known as the group number.
  • Finally, the last four digits that are found in your SSN are known as the serial number.

Three sets of digits combine to create the standard social security number. You can then begin to understand the prevailing government logic behind each of those three sets:

  • Area number refers to geographic location. Before 1972, the area number simply referred to the area in which the person obtained the card. It did not necessarily refer to where they actually lived. This changed slightly in 1972, when everything was centralized in Baltimore. From then on, the area number was established as the zip code of the address from which the SSN application was sent. The mailing address of the applicant does not need to be the same as the mailing address of their actual residence. In the end, the area number is not necessarily an indication of where the individual actually lives.
  • Based within the three digits of the area number, the group number can come from anything that's between 01 and 99. However, these two digits are not going to be consistent. It's also important to remember that within the area, the first number will consist of an odd between 01 and 09. The 2nd number will consist of an even between 10 and 98. It can also consist of an even between 02 and 08, followed by an odd between 11 and 99.
  • The serial number consists of four digits that run consistently from 0001 to 9999.

As you can see, the system for social security numbers is straightforward, yet extremely flexible in what it can do.

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