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
|221-222||Delaware||525, 585||New Mexico|
|232-236||West Virginia||530, 680||Nevada|
|303-317||Indiana||577-579||District of Columbia|
|318-361||Illinois||580||U.S. Virgin Islands|
|449-467||Texas||729-733||Enumeration at Entry|
After June of 2011, the Social Security Administration instituted a randomizer process. This process did three things:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!