Social Security Numbers
How are Social Security numbers assigned?

Q: I have three questions about Social Security numbers:
1. Is there any significance to the nine numbers included in the Social Security number?
2. How many Social Security numbers have been issued since the program started?
3. Are Social Security numbers reused after someone dies?

A: 1. Yes. The first three digits are assigned by the geographical region in which the person was residing at the time he or she obtained a number. Generally, numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving westward. So, as a rule, people on the East Coast have the lowest numbers and those on the West Coast have the highest numbers. The remaining six digits in the number are more or less randomly assigned and were organized to facilitate the early manual bookkeeping operations associated with the creation of Social Security in the 1930s.

2. Social Security numbers were first issued in November 1936. To date, 453.7 million different numbers have been issued.

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Posted: November 1, 2011
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