Consecutive SSN's, same last name...potential for problems?

My brother and I are several years apart and were born well before the requirement for infants to have social security numbers for tax reporting requirements. However, our parents applied for social security cards for each of us at the same time when we were children, when they opened a separate savings account for each of us. As a result, we have sequential social security numbers, and we have the same last name and the same first initial.

Do you think that this might create potential problems down the road when and if there are SS benefits to be claimed by either of us?

Other than normal political meandering about the SS system, and the fact that I have paid into the system since I started working at about age 14, I don’t know that much about how the SS system works. I have never made a claim against it. But was curious if the situation with my brother and I could create problems down the road.

Consider the fact that every pair of twins is in the same situation as you. I don’t think it’s much cause for concern.

Why would there be a problem as long as you each know the correct number? Two numbers are 100% different to a computer. Besides, every SSN theoretically has nine other numbers only one digit apart in the last digit’s place. Are you worried about those?

However, I don’t believe SSNs have any builtin checksum or other error detection/correction, AFAIK, unlike most modern account numbers for insurance, bank accounts, etc. If so, then the possibility of confusion with any random SSN holder in the country exists for all of us if someone enters the wrong number somewhere on a form or computer.

No. I have several friends that have twins, and their kids SSN are not sequential. I don’t know if it’s a different processing that goes on now vs. then.

No, because those people don’t have the same last name and first initial as me.

Put your number in a computer, and it doesn’t care what your name is.

Example. I have never been to Florida, but someone once cashed a bad check there and someone in Florida entered my SSN in the Bad Check database. I was unable to cash a check at a dealer that I had done business with for years in California until I cleared it up. Turns out the name, address, phone number, Driver’s License number, state and all the other data in the Bad Check database did not match my info in the slightest except for the (wrong) SSN. The computer didn’t care, and marked me a deadbeat.

So, you’re saying when it comes time to start claiming benefits with the SSA, they don’t care what your name is, only what your number is. They don’t look for any other identification?

That seems a bit odd, and unrealistic to me…but I’ve never dealt with the SSA, other than requesting a new SSN for my kids.

I will admit my example was years ago, and (some) computer programs are more sophisticated now. But very few, other than Google-based ones, can make a valid comparison between William G. Smith, Bill Smith, and Bill Gates Smith. So unless you always enter your name exactly, without any variation whatsoever, some confusion could exist, and to avoid that, computer programs may probably ignore tiny variations.

So you are wise to be cautious and check any forms that you get for the correct name and SSN carefully. But that’s good advice for all of us, especially in the absence of a checksum in the number.

Mainframe software to recognize as equivalent and consolidate the three names you listed has existed since the 1960s.

For the OP, if you are paying into Social Security, you should receive an annual statement of what you have paid in and what you can expect (maybe I should say hope) to receive. The name and address that you see on that statement are the name and address of record for the SSN on the form. Only the last 4 digits of the SSN appear on the form. When you eventually claim benefits, your name, address and SSN all matter.

As someone who has wrestled with, corrected, written, tolerated and fixed that kind of software, I would advise you to not count on it 100%.

I was responsible maintaining one of these systems during the 90s for a big mutual fund company. The vendor was Innovative Systems, Inc. Their software was amazingly tweakable in terms of matching criteria and tolerances, and sent questionable items to a user interface for human judgment. It worked pretty well.

Anecdote: (nothing to do with the OP)
I worked with a fellow that had a twin brother. He and his brother had the same last name, very similar first names (something like Keith and Kevin, I forget exactly), the same birthdate, and their social security numbers only had one digit difference (I don’t know if it was the last digit.)

He said it gave rise to constant confusion. e.g. They both went to the same college, when it came time to graduate all the credits were listed under one brother, and the other brother had zero credits. When they tried to fix it all the credits went to the second brother and the first brother had zero credits. Eventually they straightened it out.

I’ll skip all the hijinks he related, when he and his brother worked for the same company after school, in the same building.

Sound like the basis for a sitcom. “One was an eight, the other, a nine; together or separate, a fine old time…”

For SS benefits, they also rely on your birthdate. Since your brother and you have different dates by several years, I’d expect that the SS system can tell you two apart without any problems.

This is correct – no such error detection methods were built into the SSN when it was devised. (But that kept it shorter.)

There was a known case where the manufacturer of wallets included a replica SS card in his wallets. Apparently too good of a replica; thousands of people ended up using that number as their SSN on various employment forms, bank accounts, etc. It was actually the real SSN of a secretary in his office; her SS account began to get credit for the earnings of all these people, but also the IRS thought she owned hundreds of (unreported) bank accounts, etc. Eventually, the SSA fixed this by issuing her a new SSN, and flagging the original one as an invalid number. Back when we were programming computers to check SSN’s for validity, this was on a list of bad SSN’s. (Now, that is usually done via direct online queries to an SSA system.)

Shouldnt be, we are in the same situation, mine ends in XX00, my brother is XX01 and my deceased sister is XX02, and they have never mixed us up.

My twin brother and I have gotten mixed up on various credit reports. Very similar first name, ssn, and fairly obviously, the same birthday.

At one point one of the agencies got me and my sister-in-law mixed up and had me married to my brother. I can’t think of a single state in the union where that combination might be condoned.

At least 5 years ago when my twins got their SS#, the SS office deliberately delayed sending in one of the applications for a week or so to avoid any confusion.

Patience; we’ll work on it. Let’s get same-sex marriage taken care of, first. :slight_smile: