HomeExclusiveHow Do Social Security Numbers Work

How Do Social Security Numbers Work

What To Do If Your Ssn Is Stolen

You Need This to Work In US! | Social Security Number

If you discover that your Social Security number is being used by someone else or if you lose your card, there are steps you should consider taking immediately.

  • Contact the to make sure they are aware of the issue have a security or fraud alert attached to your credit report.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration to notify it of fraudulent use of your number, or the potential for it. If you lost your card, discuss the process to replace it.
  • File a police report on an actual theft of your card or use of your number.
  • Monitor your credit reports for any unauthorized use of existing credit accounts or the unauthorized opening of new accounts.

Commit Crimes That Will Be On Your Record

Someone who steals your SSN can use it to avoid criminal responsibility. For example, fraudsters could use your SSN and name to identify themselves when law enforcement arrests them for a crime.

The scammer then walks away, and your name is tangled up in their criminal record â preventing you from getting jobs that require criminal background checks .

What If I Dont Work For A Few Years

Your monthly benefit is based on your 35 highest-earning years of work. If you dont work for a few years or have fewer than 35 years of earnings, those years will be factored in as $0 for determining your highest 35 years of earnings. For example, if you worked a total of 30 years, those years will be used to determine your average in addition to five years of zero pay.

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The Three Parts Of The Social Security Number

The first three digits of the SSN represented an Area Number. This used to show the state from which the individual applied for the Social Security card for the first time. To make things easier, they gave the lowest numbers to the people in the North-East, whereas the highest numbers were given to the people on the West Coast.

Then, the next two digits consisted of the Group Number, which served to break all applicants from a particular area into smaller blocks. They were not assigned consecutively, though. Instead, the off numbers from 01 to 99 were given, then the even numbers from 10 to 98 were being assigned.

After all of them were assigned, even groups 02 through 08 were assigned, as well as off groups 11 through 99.

Lastly, there were the four-digit numbers at the end of the SSN, which represented the Serial Number. The numbers here were given to people consecutively starting from 0001 and going until 9999.

The system was changed a little bit in 1972, though. On the application, Social Security started requesting the individuals ZIP code and not the state location of the office where the person applied.

The old system stopped being used in 2011, though, as the number of SSNs available per state was too limited. If they kept using the old system, they would have eventually run out of available SSNs. They switched to randomization, which is more convenient.

Get A Fraudulent Drivers License

Buy Social Security Number Online

When scammers steal your SSN, they can use it to obtain a fraudulent driverâs license and pose as you. This scam can be hard to trace. But some warning signs include warrants for arrests and traffic tickets issued in states you didnât visit.

Contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles if you suspect an identity thief obtained a fraudulent driverâs license in your name.

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What Do The Numbers Mean

Social Security created SSNs in 1936. Back then, computers didn’t yet exist, and Social Security personnel needed a way to quickly sort the vast numbers of applications that arrived at the agency’s office in Baltimore, where the files were organized by region as well as alphabetically. “It was really just a bookkeeping device for our own internal use and was never intended to be anything more than that,” a historical article on the Social Security website explains .

To accomplish that, Social Security officials came up with a complex system of nine-digit SSNs, with three different parts that conveyed different pieces of identifying information. The first set of three digits was the Area Number, and originally represented the state in which a person first applied for a Social Security card. The numbers started in the northeast and moved westward, so that northeasterners had the lowest numbers, and people in the West Coast had the highest ones .

The middle two digits, the Group Number, helped break the applicants in a region into smaller blocks. Instead of being assigned consecutively, all the odd numbers from 01 to 99 were assigned, and then all the even numbers from 10 to 98 were used. Once those had been assigned, even groups 02 through 08 were used, and then odd groups 11 through 99 .

Finally, SSNs were given a four-digit ending sequence called the Serial Number, whose numbers were assigned consecutively from 0001 to 9999 .

Who Is Eligible For Social Security Benefits

So, who gets Social Security benefits? First, lets focus on Social Security retirement benefits. Retirees who have enough work credits have eligibility to receive retirement benefits. In most cases, you must have worked for at least ten years to be eligible for benefits. Many people wonder, When do you get Social Security? You can start your benefits as early as age 62, although you will see a significant reduction in your monthly amount. The full retirement age is either 66 or 67 for most people.

In addition to the retiree, qualified dependents are also eligible to receive benefits based on the work history of the primary beneficiary. Spousal benefits are one of the most common benefit types that people receive. These benefits allow a qualified spouse to receive 50% of the primary insurance amount. So, if you receive $1,000 per month in benefits, then your spouse could receive $500 per month based on your earnings record. Ex-spouses can also qualify for these benefits in some cases.

Upon the death of the primary beneficiary, the widow or widower can then switch to survivor benefits. Social Security survivor benefits allow a surviving spouse to receive 100% of the amount of the deceaseds benefits. So, in the previous example, the $500 would be increased to $1,000 per month upon the death of the primary earner.

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Review Your Credit Reports Regularly

Your credit report and credit history can contain obvious clues that your SSN is being used by a criminal. Look for transactions that you donât recognize, accounts you didnât open, or hard inquiries you didnât request. Also check for sudden changes in your credit score that you canât explain.

You can get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com to check for suspicious activity on your credit file.

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Enhancing The Social Security Card

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In addition to developing verification systems to allow authorized users to determine if SSN information matches SSA data, SSA has also taken steps to help guard against fraudulent Social Security cards. Because an SSN is needed for work and has been adopted for many other uses, a market for counterfeit Social Security cards has developed.

SSA has taken and continues to take steps to strengthen the integrity of the Social Security card and guard against its misuse. One of the first steps was to distinguish whether cards were valid for work purposes. In 1974, SSA began assigning SSNs for nonwork purposes when such use of an SSN was authorized by law. Initially, the nonwork cards looked the same as cards issued to citizens and aliens authorized to work. In May 1982, SSA began annotating cards issued for nonwork purposes with the legend “not valid for employment.”

In 1988, to prevent photocopy counterfeits, a security feature that displays as “void” when photocopied was added. Also in 1988, legislation increased the monetary penalties for SSN violations. In September 1992, SSA began to annotate Social Security cards for aliens with temporary work authorization “valid for work only with INS authorization.”

In September 1997, SSA published its findings in the Report to Congress on Options for Enhancing the Social Security Card. The seven options that SSA developed included:

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When Can I Apply For A Social Security Number

F-1 students

  • If you have Curricular Practical Training Authorization, you can apply 30 days before the start date of your Curricular Practical Training
  • If you have Optional Practical Training Authorization, you can apply after you have both your I-20 with Optional Practical Training endorsement and your Employment Authorization card
  • If you are working on campus, you can apply after you receive your On-Campus Employment Letter from the Office of Global Services

J-1 students

  • If you have Academic Training Authorization, you can apply 30 days before the start date of your Academic Training
  • If you are working on-campus, you can apply after your receive your On-Campus Employment Letter from the Office of Global Services

What Should You Do If Your Social Security Number Is Stolen

Identity thieves are everywhere. Contact the Social Security Administration if you suspect that your number is stolen. The agency can help fix problems related to income. If you have problems with your credit, you must contact your financial institution and the credit reporting agencies . You can also file complaints with IdentityTheft.gov, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Internet Crime Center to report any suspicious activity.

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Can I Claim Benefits Before My Normal Retirement Age

Yes, you can claim benefits as early as age 62. Your monthly benefit will be reduced for early commencement heres a link to the Social Security Administration that breaks down the effects of early retirement on your benefit.

As an example if your Normal Retirement Age is 67 and you decide to begin benefits at age 62, you will receive 70% of your monthly PIA benefit. Also, you will potentially lose out on higher years of earnings that would increase your monthly PIA benefit. Please note that this reduction remains for your entire life so please consult with your financial advisor prior to making that decision.

Get Ssa Benefits While Living Abroad

Apply For Free Social Security Card

U.S. citizens can travel to or live in most, but not all, foreign countries and still receive their Social Security benefits. You can find out if you can receive benefits overseas by using the Social Security Administrations payment verification tool. Once you access the tool, pick the country you’re visiting or living in from the drop-down menu options.

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Components Of The Ssn

Area number

The first group of three digits is the area number. It represented the issuing state. States could have more than one number, depending on how many people needed SSNs. Examples of area numbers include 001 to 003 for New Hampshire and 575 to 576 for Hawaii.

Generally, people on the east coast have the lowest SSNs. Area numbers ascended as assignment moved westward. So, people on the west coast tend to have the highest SSNs.

Beginning in 1972, the area number was assigned based on the zip code associated with the mailing address on the application.

There have been exceptions to the original area number assignment process:

  • 700-728 were assigned to railroad workers until 1963.
  • 586 was assigned to American Samoa, Guam, the Philippines, Americans employed internationally by American companies, and Indochinese refugees .
  • 729-733 were allocated to the Department for Homeland Security for its Enumeration of Entry program for non-citizens admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence.
  • 666 will never be assigned.

Group number

The following group of two digits is the group number. Group numbers range from 01 to 99. They weren’t necessarily assigned consecutively. They originally represented the groups of 10,000 numbers issued to a state’s post offices which were to help assign SSNs. They came to represent the issuing office.

Serial number

In 2011, SSNs began to be issued randomly.

Why Do Social Security Numbers Matter

For those assigned one at birth, the social security number marks one of the oldest pieces of identification they own. For others who obtained one later in life, it marks the beginning of a new phase of life here in the US.

A social security number is vital for many aspects of life, such as gaining employment and setting yourself up for retirement benefits.

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Obtaining A Social Security Number

The Social Security Administration assigns nine-digit Social Security numbers to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and eligible nonimmigrant workers in the United States. SSA uses SSNs to report wages to the government, track Social Security benefits and for other identification purposes. Every F and M student who U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants employment authorization to needs an SSN.

Please note: If an F or M student is ineligible to receive an SSN, but receives non-wage income while in the United States , they must apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number . For more information, please visit our What is an ITIN? resource page.

Applying For An Ssn Today

How to Apply for Social Security Number (SSN) as a Foreigner

Just as it was in 1936, today a person must complete an application to obtain an original or replacement SSN or to change the information in SSA’s Numident records. There are a number of ways to initiate the application process.

The paper form a person completes to apply for an original SSN or a replacement card or to make changes to SSA’s Numident record is still the SS-5. The SS-5 application is available online14 or in any SSA field office. The application and required evidence can be taken or mailed to any Social Security office for processing. An in-person interview is required if the applicant is age 12 or older and is applying for an original SSN. The Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Manila also accepts SS-5 applications for an original SSN or a replacement card, as do all U.S. Foreign Service posts and all military posts outside the United States. SSA employees key the SS-5 application data and evidence into the SSA computer system, which uses the information to create or update the Numident. The signed SS-5 application is retained for a short period in the field office, and then is sent to a records center in Pennsylvania for microfilming. Once microfilmed, the original SS-5 is destroyed.15

The information currently requested on the SS-5 is:

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Is It Better To Take Social Security At My Normal Retirement Age Or To Delay It

Unfortunately, there isnt a one size fits all answer. Whether you wait to claim your benefit or start them at your NRA should be based on your individual financial needs, expected longevity, and ability to re-enter the workforce if needed. Its best to seek out a financial advisor that specializes in maximizing Social Security benefits and work with them to develop a plan that best suits your circumstances.

Are Social Security Benefits Taxable

So, do you have to pay income taxes on your Social Security benefits? The answer really depends on how much total retirement income you have. The average Social Security check in 2022 is $1,657. American workers who rely solely on Social Security for their only source of income will not have to pay income taxes on it. As long as your income is below $25,000, then you will not owe taxes on your Social Security payments. If your income is between $25,000 and $34,000, then you will be required to pay taxes on 50% of your benefits. Finally, if your income is above $34,000, then you will be taxed on 85% of your benefits. These amounts increase for a married couple filing jointly.

When filing your tax return, remember that income is not only money earned from working a job. This could also be income from an IRA, 401k, or other retirement accounts. You should always consult a professional for help with your personal finances and tax questions. They can assist you with strategies to help maximize your income and minimize the taxes that will be due.

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Are Social Security Benefits Adjusted For Inflation

Yes, those already receiving benefits typically see an increase each year as a result of inflation. As for the amount, that is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers .

Please note if the CPI-W doesnt increase, there is no increase in benefits. For 2022, the cost-of-living increase is 5.9%. While the 2023 cost-of-living increase is unknown, it is projected to be in the 7.6% to 8.9% range at the date this article was written. You can see the historical cost of living increases here.

Why You Need A Ssn

Anatomy of a Social Security Number

A Social Security number is very important to have due to its direct connection to the future benefits you may be entitled to receive from the U.S. government.

An SSN is used to track an individual’s yearly earnings and the number of years they’ve worked. These figures are required to compute potential financial benefits, whether they relate to retirement income, disability income, or health insurance.

When people start their working careers, employers request their Social Security numbers as part of the application process. They provide the Internal Revenue Service with details of salary payments associated with each SSN and the withholdings made for employees’ contributions to Social Security and Medicare. Employers also report this information to any state that has an income tax.

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Obtain Proof Of Employment Eligibility

To be eligible for an SSN, you must provide proof of employment to the Social Security Administration. You must have this documentation in hand before you apply for an SSN. The type of proof varies with the type of work authorization you have:

  • Academic Training : You will need to go through the AT approval process to get AT authorization printed on your DS-2019. In addition to the AT on your DS-2019, you will need a letter from OIA. This letter can be requested from OIA here.
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