SSA to Make Changes to SSNs in 2011

When I left high school and went to college (many decades ago), one of the few things I was well prepared for was college Spanish.  I breezed through my Spanish I course, and confidently went by the professor’s office once grades were posted.  Knowing I would see an A, I scanned the list of ‘last-four-digits-of-your-SSN’s, found mine, and followed it across………to a D!!!  Distraught, I phoned the professor and asked what on earth had happened.  Confused, she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about…..I see right here that you made an A.”  I went back to her posted list, and sure enough, someone else in my class had the exact same ‘last-four-digits-of-your-SSN’ as I!  This was my rude awakening to the real world of SSNs.  But I and my ‘last-four’ have made it safely through since then, sharing a comfortable, secure bond through employers, banks, mortgages, insurance, taxes, etc.

As a payroll professional, I have an even greater awareness of how critical those SSNs are — not just the ‘last four’, but the whole nine.  It’s always been one of those safe zones where things have been the same since FDR……where, ”oh, you start with 241 — you must be from North Carolina!” launches you into some twisted sort of camaraderie.

Well hold on, buddy.  SSA is making changes!  Some of the things that we payroll folks have known like the back of our check stock are going with the wind in mid-2011!

Changes to Social Security Numbers

  • Newly issued SSNs will no longer be based on geography — they will be random.  So much for camaraderie.
  • SSNs can begin with the number 8 —something that has NEVER been done before.  Make sure your payroll/HR software and your third parties’ software will allow this.
  • SSNs beginning with the number 7 will no longer be reserved for certain states and/or nonresident aliens.

But take comfort that some things will not change……

  • SSNs will still not begin with the number 9, or the first three digits 666 or 000.
  • The middle two digits will still never be 00, and the final four digits will never be 0000.
  • You will still never see the SSN 123-45-6789.

And we thought the HIRE Act was keeping SSA too busy to make any other changes……….HA!

Susan Warren, CPP
Software Support & Training Specialist

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