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Social Security Numbers were first issued as part of the New Deal Program that was created by the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. A Social Security Number (SSN) is a nine digit number used as an individuals link to the government and vice versa.

Social Security Numbers are used for the tracking of certain services and benefits such as Social Security, retirement, disability, death benefits and details, Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental security income, social services for adults and children, unemployment compensation, and other services.

A Social Security Number is issued to citizens, permanent residents, and temporary workers for uses that include finding a job, collecting benefits, and it is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for taxation purposes.

Issued by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the Federal Government, social security numbers have become important as a source of identification. Whereas the original purpose of social security numbers was to track individuals' accounts within the Social Security Program, they are now used keep track of credit, medical, employee, student, and other personal records.

They are used when applying for, getting, and using credit. When buying a home or an automobile, getting a home or a personal loan, applying for credit cards, or making other purchases, banks, mortgage companies credit unions, insurance companies and other credit companies run credit reports using social security numbers.

The IRS requires any citizen who receives income to have a social security number and employers are required to report an employee's earning using the individual's number. Social security numbers are also used by the United States military as identification of individual soldiers, sailors, and other military personnel.

Today, many parents apply for their children's social security number soon after birth so the child can be claimed as a dependent on tax returns.

What do the numbers mean?

  • Area numbers - The first three digits of your Social Security Number originally represented the state in which a person first applied for a Social Security card. Numbers started in the northeast and moved westward, meaning that people on the east coast had the lowest numbers and those on the west coast had the highest. Since 1972, however, the Social Security Administration has assigned numbers and issued cards based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the original application form which means that since the applicant's mailing address doesn't have to be the same as his residence, his area number doesn't necessarily represent the state in which he resides.
  • Group numbers - The two middle digits: These two numbers range from 01 through 99 and are simply used to break all the social security numbers with the same area number into smaller blocks, which makes administration easier.
  • Serial numbers - The last four digits: Within each group designation, serial numbers run consecutively from 0001 through 9999 which represents a straight numerical progression of assigned numbers.

If you need a social security number, want to replace your lost or stolen card, or want a card showing your new name, you will need to file Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) with your nearest Social Security office. This service is free. Forms are available online or by calling Social Security's national toll free number: 1-800-772-1213.

Note:  Contact your local Social Security Administration Office for all the latest updates on benefits and filing requirements.



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