DEFINITION of 'Social Security Number - SSN'

A nine-digit number assigned to citizens, some temporary residents and permanent residents in order to track their income and determine benefit entitlements. The Social Security number was created in 1936 and while the original intention was just to track earnings and benefits, it is now also used to identify individuals and sometimes track their credit record.

BREAKING DOWN 'Social Security Number - SSN'

Social Security numbers are now random streams of digits, but prior to 2011, they were not. At that time, the first three digits represented the area in which the individual was born or was from. The next pair of numbers was originally slated to represent a year or month of birth. Because they worried about this being falsified, the Social Security Administration instead voted to have it represent a group number. The final four digits have aways been randomly generated.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Outside Earnings

    Income that temporarily reduces a retired individual's Social ...
  2. Social Security Benefits

    The monetary benefits received by retired workers who have paid ...
  3. Social Security Trust Fund

    An account used by the United States federal government to record ...
  4. Social Security

    A United States federal program of social insurance and benefits ...
  5. Social Security Tax

    The tax levied on both employers and employees used to fund the ...
  6. Routing Transit Number - RTN

    A nine-digit numerical code used to identify a banking or other ...
Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    The Purpose of Having a Social Security Number

    When (and why) it is necessary to use the nine-digit number the United States government issues to individuals and when you should avoid it.
  2. Retirement

    How To Make Social Security Work

    What's going to happen to Social Security by the time you retire? What can be done to help it?
  3. Retirement

    How Social Security for Legal Immigrants Works

    If you earn enough work credits in the U.S. – or combined with credits from certain other countries – you can claim benefits. Here is how.
  4. Retirement

    Introduction to Social Security

    You've probably contributed to this fund, but will you reap the benefits? Find out here.
  5. Retirement

    Will the Social Security Cap Increase Help It Last Longer?

    The Social Security cap increase will be 7% in 2017, but even that may not be enough to keep Social Security from running out of funds.
  6. Retirement

    The Purpose of a Social Security Statement

    Learn what information your Social Security benefit statement contains and how you can use the information to more intelligently plan for retirement.
  7. Financial Advisor

    How Social Security Benefits are Taxed

    The tax impact of Social Security benefits is often misunderstood. Here's how advisors can help clients manage their tax liability once benefits commence.
  8. Retirement

    How to Fix an Error on Your Social Security Check

    For many seniors, social security benefits checks are their income stream which means the benefit has to be correct. If you spot an error, you can fix it.
  9. Retirement

    What Will Social Security Look Like When You Retire?

    Many workers are not confident that Social Security will be around during their retirement. Here's what you need to know about its future.
  10. Retirement

    4 Things That Are Reducing Your Social Security

    Worried about Social Security dwindling? We discuss four ways it’s already happening.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    Learn about the Social Security Administration's main responsibilities along with its history, structure and social safety ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Quadruple Witching

    The expiration date of various stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures. All stock ...
  2. Co-pay

    A type of insurance policy where the insured pays a specified amount of out-of-pocket expenses for health-care services such ...
  3. Protectionism

    Government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often done with the intent of protecting local ...
  4. Fiduciary

    A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person, or persons to manage assets.
  5. Demonetization

    Demonetization is the act of stripping a currency unit of its status as legal tender and is necessary whenever there is a ...
  6. Investment

    An asset or item that is purchased with the hope that it will generate income or appreciate in the future. In an economic ...
Trading Center