The Social Security Administration (SSA) is changing the way Social Security Numbers (SSNs) are issued. This change is referred to as “randomization.” On July 3, 2007, the SSA published its intent to randomize the nine-digit SSN in the Federal Register Notice, Protecting the Integrity of Social Security Numbers [Docket No. SSA 2007-0046].
The date for SSN Randomization was announced as June 25, 2011 to coincide with the start of the third quarter and software updates. The SSA is developing this new method to help protect the integrity of the SSN and extend the longevity of SSNs in all states.
The SSA began assigning the nine-digit SSN in 1936 for the purpose of tracking workers’ earnings over the course of their lifetimes to pay benefits. Since its inception, the SSN has always been comprised of the three-digit area number, followed by the two-digit group number, and ending with the four-digit serial number.
There are approximately 420 million numbers available for assignment. However, the current SSN assignment process limits the number of SSNs that are available for issuance to individuals by each state.
SSN Randomization will affect the SSN assignment process in the following ways:
- It will eliminate the significance of the highest group number and, as a result, the High Group List will be frozen in time and can only be used for validation of SSNs issued prior to the randomization implementation date.
- It will eliminate the geographical significance of the first three digits of the SSN by no longer allocating the area numbers for assignment to individuals in specific states.
- Previously unassigned area numbers will be introduced for assignment (“7” and “8” in the first position) excluding area numbers 000, 666 and 900-999.
Using these ranges of numbers will allow SSA to continue issuing SSNs for approximately the next 30 years without making any changes, but these changes to the SSN may require systems and/or business process updates to accommodate SSN Randomization.
Over 95% of new SSN cards issued each year are to newborns (the SSA Enumeration at Birth process), but there will be adults with randomized SSNs this week.
Under the following circumstances, the SSA may assign a new 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;
- A victim of identity theft continues to be disadvantaged by using the original number;
- Situations of harassment, abuse or life endangerment (including domestic violence)
With SSN Randomization, please let us know if you are interested in learning more about the Consent Based Social Security Number Verification (CBSV) service for verification purposes to mitigate fraud and identity theft and its associated losses. SSN Trace algorithms will no longer be useful and some old methods of validation will be obsolete.