How to Determine the State of Residence from Social Security Numbers

Generally, if you wish to find out information about an individual’s Social Security application, you will need to acquire that person’s SS-5 form, a photocopy of which can be obtained from the Social, Security Administration for a fee of $21.00. See SS-5 Form for the form itself and mailing instructions.

The information included on the application is:

  • Full name
  • Full name at birth (including maiden name)
  • Present mailing address
  • Age at last birthday
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth (city, county, state)
  • Father’s full name “regardless of whether living or dead”
  • Mother’s full name, including maiden name, “regardless of whether living or dead”
  • Sex and race
  • Ever applied for SS number/Railroad Retirement before? Yes/No
  • Current employer’s name and address
  • Date signed
  • Applicant’s signature

But what if you just wish to determine by the actual Social Security Number where the card was issued? In other words, where the applicant applied?

The first 3 digits are called the Area Number, and it provides a clue. From the SSA ( in their description of the Area Number:

The Area Number is assigned by the geographical region. Prior to 1972, cards were issued in local Social Security offices around the country and the Area Number represented the State in which the card was issued. This did not necessarily have to be the State where the applicant lived, since a person could apply for their card in any Social Security office. Since 1972, when SSA began assigning SSNs and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, the area number assigned has been based on the ZIP code in the mailing address provided on the application for the original Social Security card. The applicant’s mailing address does not have to be the same as their place of residence. Thus, the Area Number does not necessarily represent the State of residence of the applicant, either prior to 1972 or since.

Also, randomization of numbers started in 2011, so for applications after that date, the Area Number has no meaning.

For the great majority of applicants, however, the first 3 digits (Area Number) may represent the state of residence for the application.

Below is a link to a QuickSheet that contains a list of the Area Numbers and the states that they represent. To obtain the two-page Quicksheet pdf for easy reference, you can view or download it by clicking on the button below.

For all the previously published Quick Reference Guides, click on QuickSheets

Genealogy QuickSheets – Frequently Asked Questions

Quicksheets are also known as Quick Reference Guides. They are generally a one or two page PDF that is downloadable. A few QuickSheets are as large as a five page PDF.
Every QuickSheet is in a specific post on The Ancestor Hunt website. Just bring up the post, and at the bottom of the page is a big brown Download button that allows you to view and/or download the PDF when clicked.
Yes! You can view or download as many as you wish.

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