The people's voice of reason

13 Fearless THINGS TO KNOW about Your Social Security Number

While many of us look forward to Friday, with its end-of-the-workweek designation and our weekend plans, certain cultures consider it an unlucky day. Some people, suffering from triskaidekaphobia, are truly terrified of the number 13. Combine the two factors and it’s not surprising that many believe that Friday the 13th is a frightening day.

While superstitions play an important part in the Friday the 13th jitters, we offer a different approach to this “unlucky” day with 13 fearless things to know about your Social Security number and card.

1. Your Social Security number is your link to Retirement or Disability benefits since we use it to record your wages and earnings.

2. There is no charge to obtain a Social Security number and card. This service is free.

3. We keep your records confidential and don’t disclose your number to anyone, except when the law requires, or when your information connects you with other government health or social services programs.

4. To prevent identity theft, keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers and be careful about sharing your number. If asked for your number, find out why your number is needed, how it will be used, and what happens if you refuse to provide it.

5. While you need a Social Security number to get a job or for other services, you often don’t need to show your Social Security card. Many organizations can verify your Social Security number directly with us.

6. If your Social Security card is lost, you can replace it up to three times a year with a lifetime limit of 10 replacement cards. Legal name changes and other exceptions will not count toward these limits.

7. You can request a replacement Social Security card with the ease and convenience of our online services if you have a my Social Security account and meet our qualifications. Visit

8. If you suspect someone is using your number for work purposes, contact us to report the problem so we can review your earnings and verify that our records are correct. You also may view your annual earnings by accessing your Social Security Statement, one of the many services available with a my Social Security account.

9. If you suspect someone is misusing your number to create credit or other problems for you, report the identify theft with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT. We also recommend that you contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if fraudulent tax refunds or reporting is involved, quickly file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at, and monitor your credit reports.

10. The nine-digit Social Security number was initiated in 1936 for tracking workers’ earnings over the course of their lifetimes for benefits, not with the intent of personal identification. Since 1936, we have issued over 30 different versions of the Social Security number card.

11. Until June 2011, the first three digits of a Social Security number were determined by the geographical region in which the person lived. Numbers were assigned beginning in the northeast and moving westward. Residents on the east coast often have lower numbers than those on the west coast. Any number beginning with 000 will never be a valid Social Security number.

12. Beginning in June 2011, we assigned Social Security numbers randomly, which protects the integrity of the Social Security number, eliminates the geographical significance of the first three digits of the Social Security number, and extends the longevity of the nine-digit Social Security number.

13. Since November 1936, we have issued 453.7 million different numbers and there are approximately 420 million numbers available for future assignments. We assign about 5.5 million new numbers a year.

Fear not, if you properly protect your Social Security number and card. Information about applying for a Social Security card, name changes, identity theft, and other answers to frequently asked questions is available at, or by calling us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Kylle’ McKinney, SSA Public Affairs Specialist, can be reached by e-mail at


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