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The Question:

What do social security numbers mean? What do the numbers tell you about someone?

The Answer:

A social security number has three parts, an area number, a group number, and a serial number.

The only part of a social security number that tells you anything about a person is the area number. Since 1972, the first three numbers of a social security card have related to the zip code of the applicant. Eastern states have low numbers (New Hampshire has 001-003) and western states have high numbers (Hawaii has 575-576).

To read all about the SSA's numbering sceme, see this page on Social Security numbers.

—The Editors

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