The project is a forward looking initiative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help protect the integrity of the SSN by establishing a new randomized assignment methodology. SSN Randomization will also extend the longevity of the nine-digit SSN nationwide.
The SSA implemented the new assignment methodology on June 25, 2011.
The SSA believes that randomly assigning the SSN will help protect the integrity of the SSN. Changing assignment methodology will also extend the available pool of nine digit SSNs in every state.
The nine-digit SSN will eventually be exhausted. The previous SSN assignment process limited the number of SSNs that were available for assignment to individuals in each state. Randomization affords the SSA the opportunity to extend the number of SSNs available for assignment for many years.
As the SSN is increasingly used by public and private entities in conjunction with other tools and processes for identity verification, instances of SSN fraud, misuse, and identity theft are also on the rise. SSN randomization will help protect an individual's SSN by making it more difficult to reconstruct an SSN using public information.
The SSA 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. The significance of the highest group number (the fourth and fifth digits of the SSN) for validation purposes was eliminated. Randomization also introduced previously unassigned area numbers for assignment excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.
SSN randomization will not assign group number 00 or serial number 0000. SSNs containing group number 00 or serial number 0000 will continue to be invalid.
The length of the SSN did not change. The SSN is still comprised of nine numeric digits.
Current number holders will not receive a new SSN or a new card as a result of randomization. The new assignment process only applies to those receiving an SSN for the first time.
Generally, we assign only one SSN to an individual. We use that number to record the individual's earnings so that we can determine future benefits and, eventually, to track benefits paid. Only under the following circumstances can we assign a different number:
- Sequential numbers assigned to members of the same family are causing problems;
- More than one person is using the same number;
- An individual has religious or cultural objections to certain numbers or digits in the original number;
(See "Can I request a new SSN because I object to digits used?")
- A victim of identity theft continues to be disadvantaged by using the original number;
(See Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number, Publication No. 05-10064.) or
- Situations of harassment, abuse or life endangerment (including domestic violence).
(See New Numbers For Domestic Violence Victims, Publication No. 05-10093.)
The SSA will not reassign SSNs. Randomization will provide us with enough new numbers to avoid reassignment.
Randomization eliminated the geographical significance of the area number (the first three digits of the SSN). Area numbers are no longer allocated to states for assignment.
The SSA will still provide opportunities for direct SSN verification. Internet based verification services include:
- The SSA's Social Security Number Verification Service available to employers.
- The Department of Homeland Security's eVerify Service available to employers to determine employment eligibility.
- The SSA's Consent-Based SSN Verification Service available to enrolled private companies and government agencies for a fee.
Federal and State Agencies will continue to have several SSN verification systems available to them such as those outlined on http://www.ssa.gov/dataexchange/. These methods for SSN verification are much more accurate than using the High Group List. For more information on those services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for referral to the appropriate SSA contact.
There are no plans to update the High Group List. The High Group List is frozen in time and can only be used to see the area and group numbers SSA issued prior to the randomization implementation date.
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