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Human Resources & Payroll

The Secrets Behind Your SSN

Ever wonder how Social Security numbers are generated? And how do you tell if a Social Security number is valid?

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This article first appeared on the Thomson Reuters Blog.

Ever wonder how Social Security numbers are generated? And how do you tell if a Social Security number is valid?

Prior to June of 2011, Social Security numbers were generated geographically. The first three numbers indicated where the person lived when getting the number.

SSN Area Number

Location

SSN Area Number

Location

001-003

New Hampshire

478-485

Iowa

004-007

Maine

486-500

Missouri

008-009

Vermont

501-502

North Dakota

010-034

Massachusetts

503-504

South Dakota

035-039

Rhode Island

505-508

Nebraska

040-049

Connecticut

509-515

Kansas

050-134

New York

516-517

Montana

135-158

New Jersey

518-519

Idaho

159-211

Pennsylvania

520

Wyoming

212-220

Maryland

521-524

Colorado

221-222

Delaware

525, 585

New Mexico

223-231

Virginia

526-527

Arizona

232

North Carolina

528-529

Utah

232-236

West Virginia

530, 680

Nevada

237-246

Not Issued

531-539

Washington

247-251

South Carolina

540-544

Oregon

252-260

Georgia

545-573

California

261-267

Florida

574

Alaska

268-302

Ohio

575-576

Hawaii

303-317

Indiana

577-579

District of Columbia

318-361

Illinois

580

U.S. Virgin Islands

362-386

Michigan

580-584

Puerto Rico

387-399

Wisconsin

586

Guam

400-407

Kentucky

586

American Samoa

408-415

Tennessee

586

Philippine Islands

416-424

Alabama

587-665

Not Issued

425-428

Mississippi

667-679

Not Issued

429-432

Arkansas

681-690

Not Issued

433-439

Louisiana

691-699

Not Issued

440-448

Oklahoma

700-728

Railroad Board

449-467

Texas

729-733

Enumeration at Entry

468-477

Minnesota

750-772

Not Issued

After June of 2011, the Social Security Administration instituted a randomizer process. This process did three things:

  1. It eliminated the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN (referred to as the area number), by no longer allocating the area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.
  2. It eliminated the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List is frozen in time and can only be used to see the area and group numbers the Social Security Administration issued prior to the randomization implementation date.
  3. Previously unassigned area numbers were introduced for assignment excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration has instituted a website and a free service that allows employers, organizations or third-party submitters to verify Social Security numbers for wage reporting purposes. Names and numbers are matched, thus ensuring W-2 name-number matching. Employers are encouraged to use this service to verify numbers and name matches.

I am often asked which numbers are not valid. Any Social Security number starting with a 9 is not a legal number for employment. According to the Social Security Administration, the following combinations are invalid Social Security numbers.

  • The first three digits (former area number) as “000,” “666” or in the 900 series.
  • The second group of two digits (former group number) as “00.”
  • The third group of four digits (former serial number) as “0000.”

When in doubt, it’s always best to consult the Social Security website. And in your spare time, try committing the SSN area numbers to memory and bet your friends you know where they were born!

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James Paille CPP, CPP has been an executive manager in the payroll service industry for more than 30 years, specializing in managing multi-location offices. He is currently
director of Operations, MyPay Solutions, Thomson Reuters. Jim is a member of the APA’s Board of Directors and National Speakers Bureau, and chairs the CPP Certification Review Panel. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.