The Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the way Social Security Numbers (SSN) are issued on June 25, 2011. This change is referred to as "SSN Randomization." The SSA developed 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 reflected the state, as determined by the ZIP code in the mailing address of the application.
There are approximately 420 million numbers available for assignment. However, the previous SSN assignment process limited the number of SSNs available for issuance to individuals by each state. Changing the assignment methodology extended the longevity of the nine digit SSN in all states. On July 3, 2007, the SSA published its intent to randomize the nine-digit SSN in the Federal Register Notice, Protecting the Integrity of Social Security Numbers [Docket No. SSA 2007-0046].
SSN randomization affected the SSN assignment process in the following ways:
These changes to the SSN may require systems and/or business process updates to accommodate SSN randomization.