What is a Social Security Number (SSN)?
The term Social Security Number (SSN) refers to a numeric identifier assigned to US citizens and other residents to track income and determine benefits. The SSN was created in 1935 as part of the New Deal to provide retirement and disability benefits. Originally intended to track revenue and provide profits, it is now used for additional purposes such as personal identification for tax purposes and tracking of credit reports. Individuals in the United States are required to provide SSNs for credit acquisition, bank account opening, government interests, and large-scale purchases, among other things.
- A Social Security number is a numeric identifier assigned to US citizens and other residents to track income and determine benefits.
- The SSN was created in 1935 as part of the New Deal policy.
- The SSN is issued by the Social Security Administration.
- To obtain a Social Security number, you must submit Form SS-5 to the Social Security Administration.
- They are vulnerable to theft and fraud of personal information.
How social security numbers work
With very few exceptions, all legal residents of the United States (citizens, permanent residents, and temporary / worker residents) have a Social Security number. Even non-working residents (citizens and non-citizens) can get an SSN because it is so useful to businesses and government agencies.
The legal framework for assigning social security numbers is set out in Section 205 (c) (2) (42 US Code, Chapter 7, Subsection 405) of the Social Security Act. Social security numbers and cards are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Social Security numbers are now a random stream of numbers, but not before 2011. At that time, the first three digits represent the region in which the individual was born or came from. The next pair of numbers was originally intended to represent the year or month of birth.
Concerned that this could be tampered with, the Social Security Administration voted to represent the group number instead. So far, the Social Security number has not been reused, but the same number may be issued to two people.
Scammers are everywhere, so it’s important to keep your information safe. You can avoid fraud and report directly to the authorities through the Federal Trade Commission website.
As mentioned above, Social Security Numbers were established as part of a program developed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to support the United States after the Great Depression. That same year, Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, especially for people over the age of 65, to provide financial stability to Americans. This included financial benefits based on the amount of income received prior to retirement.
The Social Security Commission was established to maintain social security legislation and manage records management. This created a unique 9-digit number assigned to each individual. As mentioned above, the numbers were divided into three groups.
- The first group of numbers represents the country of origin, such as 001 to 003 for New Hampshire and 575 to 576 for Hawaii.
- The second group of numbers was determined by the issuing office
- The third group of numbers emphasizes the order within the group
Changes were made within the publishing office in 2011, when the SSN was randomly published.
The usage of SSN has also changed during its lifetime. For example, federal agencies had to use them to identify individuals as of 1943. Other important moments on the SSN timeline are:
- Use of SSN for tax filing purposes by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1962
- As of 1970, banks need to get SSNs from all their customers
- Need to provide financial institutions with SSN for interest-bearing accounts in 1983
- Printing of SSN on 1996 driver’s license and birth and death records. SSN was removed from driver’s license and birth record in 1999
- Removal of legislation requiring SSN as a way to identify individuals in 2008
How to get a social security number
The social security number and corresponding card can be obtained by filling out the social security card application form from Form SS-5: SSA. The form includes obtaining the original card, exchanging the card, and modifying or modifying the SSN record.
The form lists a complete list of requirements, including age, identity, and documents certifying US citizenship / immigration status. There is no cost to get a card or number. In some circumstances, individuals may change their Social Security number.
The number of social security numbers that can be assigned.
Theft of social security numbers and personal information
Social security numbers are often used as personal identifiers and to obtain credit. They do not include biometrics and rely on documentation to prove their effectiveness. They are vulnerable to theft and fraud of personal information.
A notable example is when the CEO of LifeLock, a personal information anti-theft service, uses SSN in advertising as a testament to the effectiveness of the company. His identity was later stolen many times.
There was a move among legislators to separate some activities from the use of SSN, such as renting apartments and obtaining hunting and fishing licenses.
How can I tell if someone is using my Social Security number?
There is no easy way to tell if your Social Security number has been compromised. Many do not know until it is too late. However, there are several ways to keep anomalous activities up-to-date, such as monitoring credit reports and bank accounts, checking income by the Social Security Administration, and requesting tax records by the IRS.
What can someone do with your Social Security number?
The SSN is one of the most important, if not the most important, personal information. Therefore, the SSN is so important that it is kept confidential. Anyone with your SSN can impersonate you, get credit, open a bank account, apply for a job, steal tax refunds, get medical treatment, and use it to steal government interests increase.
What if my Social Security number is stolen?
Spoofing criminals are everywhere. If you suspect your number has been stolen, please contact the Social Security Administration. Agencies can help resolve income-related issues. However, if you have credit problems, you will need to contact your financial institution and credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can also file a complaint with IdentityTheft.gov, the Internal Revenue Service, or the Internet Crime Center to report suspicious activity.
How do I get a new Social Security number?
To obtain an SSN, you must complete Form SS-5 and submit to SSA two documents certifying your age and identity, citizenship or immigration status.
How long does it take to get a Social Security number?
SSA will mail your personal Social Security number and card as soon as you receive all the necessary information and documents. This can take 2-4 weeks, especially if management is facing delays.