# How Long Are Social Security Numbers?

## Key Takeaway:

• Social Security numbers are composed of 9 digits, separated into 3 segments.
• The first 3 digits of a SSN represent the geographical region where the number was issued.
• Some numbers are skipped to avoid confusion or prevent duplication, but the reason for skipping certain numbers is not publicly disclosed.

Are you confused about the length of Social Security numbers? Learn more about this crucial element of personal identification and how to determine yours with this guide. You’ll be an expert in no time!

## How many digits are in a social security number?

Social security numbers are typically comprised of nine digits. These numbers are assigned to individuals in the United States as a means of identifying them for social security and tax purposes. These digits are divided into three different sections, with the first three representing the geographical area where the number was issued, the next two indicating the group number assigned to the individual, and the final four being the serial number assigned to the individual within their group. It is important to protect your social security number as it can be used for identity theft purposes. According to the Social Security Administration, as of 2011, over 42 million social security numbers had been issued.

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## Social Security Number Format

We will explain the nine-digit social security number format. Each segment has a meaning. Let’s look at the sequence of numbers and discuss why it is used. This sub-section will give more information.

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### The meaning behind each segment of the SSN

The Segments that Make Up a Social Security Number

Each numerical and alphabetical segment of the social security number corresponds to different information about the holder.

The Different Segments of the SSN and Their Meanings

SegmentMeaning
1-3Area Number
4-5Group Number
6-9Serial Number

An area number represents the state in which the SSN was issued, while group numbers represent the order in which SSNs were issued within that state. The serial number is unique to each individual.

It’s worth noting that area numbers were once decided based on where individuals resided when they applied for an SSN, but this practice stopped years ago.

If you’re looking to protect your SSN from fraudsters, consider monitoring your credit report regularly and verifying unsolicited communications with government agencies. This will reduce risks associated with identity theft and misuse or unauthorized dissemination of your SSN information.

Your 9-digit social security number is like a unique identifier for the government to keep track of your life, but let’s be real, they probably already know more about you than your own mother.

## How is your Social Security Number Assigned?

Gain insight into the structure of your unique nine-digit Social Security Number. Dive into the geographical significance of the first three digits. Learn why some numbers are skipped. It relates to your location and timing of application. Understand how it is assigned. Explore these sub-sections.

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### The geographical significance of the first three digits

The allocation of Social Security Numbers is not arbitrary. Rather, the geographical location plays a crucial role in determining the first three digits of SSNs assigned to individuals. Each group of numbers corresponds to a specific geographical location in the United States.

Take a look at the following table, which illustrates the allocation of SSN prefixes and their corresponding locations:

Prefix RangeLocation
001-003New Hampshire
004-007Maine
008-009Vermont

It’s interesting to note that not all states are represented in this numbering system. For example, a prefix for Hawaii or Alaska does not exist. Also, new prefixes are assigned as needed based on population growth and demographic changes.

Did you know that before 1972, SSN assignment was entirely random and had no connection with geography? This decision changed when it became clear that some states were running out of SSNs while others had excess numbers. The switch to a geographical-based assignment solved this problem.

In closing, there is an interesting story about the first person ever issued an SSN: John D. Sweeney Jr., who received number 001-01-0001 upon his application for benefits in November 1936. The father-of-nine worked as a consultant for Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and passed away in May 1974 at age 72.

Looks like your Social Security Number was unlucky enough to be skipped, unlike your ex’s calls at 3am.

### Why are some numbers skipped?

Social Security Numbers are assigned based on the geographical region and year of application. The numbers follow a specific pattern, with some numbers being skipped intentionally. This is due to various reasons such as protecting the privacy of individuals and avoiding confusion in record keeping.

When assigning Social Security Numbers, particular combinations or patterns may be avoided to eliminate any possible confusion or errors in processing applications. Also, certain numbers are skipped to ensure that new applicants are not issued a number that was previously assigned to someone else. This helps avoid identity theft and fraud.

It should also be noted that once assigned, Social Security Numbers are never reissued or recycled even after an individual passes away. This means that there will always be some unused numbers in circulation, which contribute to the intentional skipping of certain digits.

Interestingly, before the mid-1980s, Social Security Numbers were assigned based on the region where the applicant lived at the time of application. However, this changed due to an increase in applications and to prevent overloaded regions from running out of available numbers. Today, Social Security Numbers are issued randomly through an electronic system designed for this purpose.

In summary, intentional skipping of certain social security numbers occurs to protect individual privacy, prevent fraud and identify theft and eliminate errors during record keeping and processing applications.

## Five Facts About Social Security Numbers:

• ✅ Social Security numbers are nine digits long. (Source: Social Security Administration)
• ✅ The first three digits of a Social Security number correspond to the geographical region where the number was issued. (Source: Federal Trade Commission)
• ✅ Social Security numbers were originally used only for tracking earnings and benefits. (Source: The Balance)
• ✅ In 2011, the Social Security Administration began randomly assigning Social Security numbers in order to prevent identity theft. (Source: CNBC)
• ✅ Social Security numbers are often used as a form of identification, but this practice is becoming less common due to concerns about identity theft. (Source: Forbes)

## FAQs about How Long Are Social Security Numbers?

### How long are social security numbers?

Social security numbers consist of nine digits in the format of XXX-XX-XXXX.