Tax & Accounting Blog

The Story Behind SSN Generation

CS Professional Suite Payroll Solutions, Payroll February 5, 2016

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
SSN Area Number
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!