The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that, beginning in June 2011, it will assign Social Security Numbers (SSNs) to new applicants randomly. Since SSNs were first introduced in 1936, the SSA has assigned the first three digits of the SSN based on the state in the mailing address on the SSN application. However, this will change in June 2011 when the numbers assigned will no longer have any geographic correlation. The change is designed to make more SSNs available, and to help fight identity theft [Social Security Administration, Social Security Number Randomization - Frequently Asked Questions, 8/30/10].
Other changes. Beginning in June 2011, an SSN may begin with either the number "7" or "8." The number "8" has never been used before as the first number in the SSN. The number "7" has never been used before as the first number in the SSN for the general population. It is currently reserved for members of the Railroad Retirement System and for people applying for SSNs from outside of the United States.
The SSA notes that employers may need to revise their computer programs to account for these changes.
What won't change? The length of the SSN will not change, and SSNs will not be revised for current SSN holders. The SSA will continue not issuing SSNs beginning with the number "9." It will also continue not issuing SSNs beginning with the numbers: (1) "000" or "666" in positions 1-3; (2) "00" in positions 4-5; or (3) "0000" in positions 6-9. The current SSN verification process will also remain the same.
During the month of September, the SSA will be offering a series of conference calls to provide more information about the randomization process. Interested persons can register to participate in one of the sessions by sending an e-mail to Irene.C.Saccoccio@ssa.gov.