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Social Security Cards Explained
Registered User
User ID: 411409
04-21-2017 04:07 AM

Posts: 9,723

Post: #1
Social Security Cards Explained

A Social Security number is a nine-digit number that the U.S. government issues to all U.S. citizens and eligible U.S. residents who apply for one. The government uses this number to keep track of your lifetime earnings and number of years worked. When the time comes to retire, or if you ever need to receive Social Security disability income, the government uses the information about your contributions to Social Security to determine your eligibility and calculate your benefit payments. Most people will use the same Social Security number for their entire lives, though some people might need to apply for a replacement number at some point because of identity theft. Keep reading to find out more about when and why you need a Social Security number as well as when you should avoid using it.

When and Why You Need a Social Security Number
Anytime you get hired for a new job, your employer will ask for your Social Security number. Your employer’s accounting department will use this number to report your income to the Internal Revenue Service and to report your Social Security wages to the Social Security Administration. Your employer will also use it for state income tax reporting, unless your state doesn’t have an income tax. Employers who participate in E-Verify, a program to make sure employees can legally work in the United States, also must obtain your Social Security number before you can begin work.

Here are some other scenarios where you’ll need to provide your Social Security number.

When opening an account with any U.S. financial institution. Since 1970, the federal government has required banks to obtain customers’ Social Security numbers. Financial institutions use your SSN to check your credit, to report your interest and investment income or losses to the IRS, to report your tax-deductible mortgage interest to the IRS, and to manage your account. As an alternative, some financial institutions will accept a taxpayer identification number (on some forms, also called an Employer Identification Number, or EIN) which you’ll need to apply for through the IRS.

When applying for a federal loan. The government will use your Social Security number to make sure you’re eligible when you apply for a federal loan, such as a federal student loan. For example, to qualify for federal student loans, you must not be in default on another federal loan, you must have an eligible citizenship or visitor status, and most male applicants must have registered with the Selective Service.

When applying for certain types of public assistance. Public assistance programs, such as unemployment benefits or Social Security disability income, are usually managed by federal or state government agencies who use Social Security numbers to identify people and make sure they aren’t claiming benefits they aren’t entitled to.

When enrolling in Medicare. The Social Security Administration works with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enroll people in Medicare.

When applying for a passport. Federal law requires you to provide a Social Security number if you have one when you apply for a U.S. passport. If you don’t have an SSN, expect delays in processing your application. If you have been issued one but don’t provide it, you could be fined $500.

On your tax return. The IRS uses this number to match the income you report on your tax return to the income your employer and financial institutions report having paid to you. Also, you’ll need to provide your child’s SSN to claim your child as a dependent on your tax return.

To get a driver’s license. If you have an SSN, you have to provide it when you apply for a driver’s license.

Non-citizens who don’t have Social Security numbers are exempt from providing a Social Security number in many situations that normally require it, including getting a driver’s license, registering for school, getting private health insurance or applying for public assistance such as subsidized housing. The government doesn’t like to give Social Security numbers to non-citizens who aren’t authorized to work in the United States. It says that even banks and credit companies usually can’t require you to provide a Social Security number if you don’t have one. However, without this number, financial institutions won’t be able to run a credit check on you, which could make it difficult if not impossible to get a credit card or loan.

Read more: The Purpose of Having a Social Security Number | Investopedia
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The Social Security number (SSN) was created in 1936 for the sole purpose of tracking the earnings histories of U.S. workers, for use in determining Social Security benefit entitlement and computing benefit levels. Since then, use of the SSN has expanded substantially. Today the SSN may be the most commonly used numbering system in the United States. As of December 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had issued over 450 million original SSNs, and nearly every legal resident of the United States had one. The SSN's very universality has led to its adoption throughout government and the private sector as a chief means of identifying and gathering information about an individual.
How did the SSN come to be, and why has it become an unofficial national identifier? This article explores the history and meaning of the SSN and the Social Security card, along with SSA's SSN master data file, generally known as the Numident. The article also traces how use of the SSN has expanded since its introduction and the steps SSA has taken to enhance the integrity of the SSN process.

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Registered User
User ID: 411409
04-21-2017 04:07 AM

Posts: 9,723

Post: #2
RE: Social Security Cards Explained
Deconstructing the SSN
As a result of the June 1936 decision, the current SSN is composed of three parts:
The first three digits are the area number
The next two digits are the group number
The final four digits are the serial number
Area Number
The 3-digit area number is assigned by geographic region. In 1936 the Social Security Board planned eventually to use area numbers to redistribute work to its 12 regional centers to serve workers in those areas. One or more area numbers were allocated to each state based on the anticipated number of SSN issuances in the state.3 Prior to 1972, the numbers were issued to local offices for assignment to individuals; it was thought this would capture information about the worker's residence. So, until 1972, the area number represented the state in which the card was issued. (Barron and Bamberger 1982, 29).
Generally, area numbers were assigned in ascending order beginning in the northeast and then moving westward. For the most part, people on the east coast have the lowest area numbers and those on the west coast have the highest area numbers. However, area numbers did not always reflect the worker's residence. During the initial registration in 1936 and 1937, businesses with branches throughout the country had employees return their SS-5 Application for Account Number to their national headquarters, so these SSNs carried the area number where the headquarters were located. As a result, the area numbers assigned to big cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago, were used for workers in many other parts of the country (McKinley and Frase 1970, 373). Also, a worker could apply in person for a card in any Social Security office, and the area number would reflect that office's location, regardless of the worker's residence.
Since 1972, when SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, MD, the area number has been assigned based on the ZIP code of the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant's mailing address may not be the same as the place of residence.
Some exceptions to the general east-to-west, ascending-order area numbering scheme exist:
Sequence 700 through 728 was assigned to railroad workers until July 1963.
586 was divided among American Samoa, Guam, the Philippines, Americans employed abroad by American employers and, from 1975 to 1979, Indochinese refugees.
580 was assigned to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; sequences 581 through 584 and 596 through 599 were also assigned to Puerto Rico.
Sequence 577 through 579 was assigned to the District of Columbia.
Sequences 587 through 588 and 589 through 595 were assigned to Mississippi and Florida, respectively, for use after those states exhausted their initial area number allotments.
Sequence 729 through 733 has been allocated to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for SSNs issued through the Enumeration at Entry (EaE) program, described below.
No SSNs with an area number in the 800s or 900s, or with a 000 area number, have been assigned.
No SSNs with an area number of 666 have been or will be assigned.
SSA has many years' worth of potential SSNs available for future assignment. However, because of population shifts, SSA now faces an imbalance in the geographic allocation of area numbers. Some states have a current allocation of SSNs that will last for many years, while others have a pending shortage. As a result, given present rates of assignment and existing geographic allocations, several states currently have fewer than 10 years' worth of SSNs available for assignment.
In a July 3, 2007, Federal Register notice, SSA solicited public comment on a proposal to change the way SSNs are assigned (SSA 2007b). Under this proposal, SSA would randomly assign SSNs from the remaining pool of available numbers, and the first three digits would no longer have any geographic significance. SSA contends that doing so would ensure a reliable supply of SSNs for years to come, and would also reduce opportunities for identity theft and SSN fraud and misuse. SSA plans additional discussion with other government entities and the private sector before implementing any change.
Group Number
The group number (the fourth and fifth digits of the SSN) was initially determined by the procedure of issuing numbers in groups of 10,000 to post offices for assignment on behalf of the Social Security Board's Bureau of Old-Age Benefits. The group numbers range from 01 to 99 (00 is not used), but for administrative reasons, they are not assigned consecutively. Within each area number allocated to a state, the sequence of group number assignments begins with the odd-numbered group numbers from 01 to 09, followed by even group numbers 10 through 98, then even numbers 02 through 08, and finally odd numbers 11 through 99.4
Serial Number
The last four digits of the SSN are the serial number. The serial number represents a straight numerical series of numbers from 0001–9999 within each group. Serial number 0000 is not assigned.
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