Thank goodness my kids have already snagged their prestigious cheesehead Social Security numbers. Starting later this summer, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will no longer issue numbers based on the state a person lives in. Numbers will now be randomly assigned. This is supposed to foil identity thieves and make new numbers available so they don’t run out (although the SSA website is careful to point out that no one is going to be getting a number that starts with 666, which amuses me to no end).
Up until now, the first three digits of a Social Security number told you what state the person lived in at the time the number was issued. This means that if you have, say, a death certificate from 1949 that lists a Social Security number, you can look on the SSA’s Number Allocation List to see what state the person lived at the time they applied for a card. That’s handy information to have. In fact, adults who were already working applied for Social Security numbers shortly after the SSA was established in 1936. Knowing where your folks lived then is going to be very helpful next April, when the 1940 census is finally released. There’s no index (yet), so we’ll all be searching manually…and we’ll need to know what state to look in.
You can also order a copy of your (deceased) ancestor’s original application for a Social Security card . It’s called the SS-5, and it contains information on the parents’ names (including the mother’s maiden name), date and place of birth, complete address, and often the employer’s name. I’ve had a string of breakthroughs lately from SS-5s. They’re expensive, but they’re often well worth it.