What is my Social Security number and what are the first 3 digits?

Your social security number identifies you as a US resident. Here is how to find it and what the first 3 digits mean.


A Social Security Number (SSN) is a 9-digit number issued to every US citizen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Introduced in 1936, it was initially used to track the income earnings of US citizens for documentation and benefit computation. 

Now it is used as a means of identification, to obtain and track credits, to open bank accounts, to apply for a job, or to apply for loans—basically for any official procedure in both the private and public sectors. It is an easy way to find out all existing information about you. 

The SSN Numbering System 

The SSA uses a three-part numbering system for social security numbers, broken down into the following

  • Area number – the first three digits 
  • Group number – the middle two digits 
  • Serial number – the last four digits 

Area Number

The first three digits of a social security number are the area number. Before now, it was assigned based on geographical location. While it did not necessarily represent a resident’s state of residence, it is assigned based on region or state of birth, or the ZIP code in the mailing address provided during application. 

However, from June 2011, the SSA stopped this method of issuing SSNs to increase the social security numbers available for assignment, and to reduce the cases of identity theft. 

Now, area numbers are assigned randomly and have no connection with your geographical location or state of birth. 

Group Number 

The middle two digits of your social security number are your group number issued chronologically in two consecutive sequences. 

  • They are issued in odd numbers from 01 to 09, followed by even numbers from 10 to 98. 
  • After this sequence is exhausted, they are issued in even numbers from 02 to 08, followed by odd numbers from 11 to 99. 

The cycle repeats after the numbers have been exhausted (00 is not used in the group number sequence). Group numbers have no specific significance. However, before June 2011, they represented the order in which a social security number was issued in a particular region. 

Serial Number 

The last four digits of your social security number are your serial number. They are mostly used for identity verification and are assigned chronologically from 0001 to 9999.

How to find your Social Security number 

To know your Social Security number, check your Social Security card (or get a new card if you have lost your existing card). Your name and SSN are imprinted on your social security card. 

Alternatively, you can check your financial documents and tax records or, check with your doctor, or reach out to your friend, relative, or former employer.

Or better still, visit a local SSA office in your city to access your personal information, or call their hotline at 800-772-1213. You can also check your Social Security number online via a my Social Security account.

Your social security number is a crucial part of your identity in the US. And the issue of identity theft has become more prevalent. Hence, it is important to safeguard your SSN by minimizing sharing, securing your documents, shredding any ones that carry your social security number before disposal, and using identity protection services like Identity Guard

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