The meaning behind Social Security numbers

I can’t help but love this one. It just fascinates me that there is a meaning behind apparently meaningless numbers. Maybe it’s just my personal insane fondness for ordering and numbering systems, I don’t know, but I love that one.
Just wanted to say it.

This is as good a place as any to advocate my One World, One Number theory.

Here’s the deal, why do we have Social Security numbers and drivers license numbers and bank account numbers and phone numbers and addresses?

We could just assign everyone a number. I’d be, say, #1. You guys can pick your own numbers. :slight_smile: But everyone gets one number, no duplication. When I want to mail you a letter, I don’t need to know your address, I just need to know your number. I write it on the envelope. The post office knows that “#2” lives over in this house. They can take all our addresses, really just our 10 digit zip, and make that their own internal code for houses. Same thing with everything else. I dial #2, and your phone rings. You call your bank’s phone banking thing and enter “#2” for your account, and it tells you how much you have.

Ok, so there’d be security issues. But those are already in place. When I call my bank, I enter a 10 digit number then a password. Keep the password, throw out the 10 digit number, make it One Number!

Well, aside from the whole evil-plan-to-take-over-the-world aspect of it, mattcolville, your idea isn’t very practical. Different numbers serve different purposes. Your address, for instance, tells you a lot about where you live, even without consulting some huge database. I know that 103 W. Third Street is probably between 101 W. 3rd and 105, and Third Street is probably between Second and Fourth. But if I don’t have the Post Office’s huge address book, then how do I know where in the country the address 6546324784 is?

First, let’s not discount the take-over-the-world aspect. :slight_smile:

Second, address have never been practical in the sense you mean. Addresses have never encoded within them how to get to where they are. There’s maybe, 150 people, none of whom I know, who know where my street is. They’re the people who live in my neighborhood. When I call a store I’ve never been to, I say ‘what are your cross-streets?’ I’m not saying abolish street names. Well, not yet. Gimme a minute and I might be able to get rid of them as well.

another problem with matt’s one number system:
Say there was someone you didn’t want to talk to ever again, but they wanted to talk to you. How do you get rid of them? They know your number…you can’t change your number. They could constantly harrass you. Just my two cents.

Come on, people! This is the 21st century! I can already block people from calling me on my cell! I’m not saying that we should abolish all the convenience we already have, I just want to make things more convenient.

Someone you don’t want to talk to anymore calls, you block their number.

One World! One Number! The Future Is Now!

But if someone, being a wealthy and actively investing guy, wants to have several bank accounts? What if he owns several houses?
Actually, the idea somewhat appeals to me. We could take the SDMB registered member numbers for a first experimental run. Mine is 13,022 :wink:

On an advanced level, one could even encode some meaning in the numbers. Isn’t there some information about the Avenue/Street crossing encoded in Manhattan house numbers? I recall reading that, if you know someone lives in 1025 XY Avenue, you can calculate what Street this is. Why not encode your exact GPS-retrieved location on the globe in your Unified Person Number (UPN[sup]TM[/sup])? :smiley:

FYR, I found that "algorithm", although I wouldn’t want to memorize it.

Here’s something that does that stuff automatically.

Hell, imagine the algorithm that tells you “If you drive southbound out of XY for about half an hour or so, then turn left behind the railroad crossing, you’ll come to a village where I live in the second street on the right”…

Eventually, the cellphone manufacturers found a new feature to include!

As for encoded meaning in numbers, Illinois drivers’ licence numbers have the following encoded in them:

Last name soundex code
First name and middle initial
Date of birth

If any of you are Illinoisians, or have an Illinois license, your number is in the following format:


First four digits are the soundex code; the next three digits are an encoding based on your name and middle initial. Digits 8 and 9 are year of birth. Last three digits are:

(Month of birth - 1) * 31 + date of birth.
Add 500 or 600 (can’t remember which off-hand) if you are female

This insane system fascinates me…I googled for a while and found this page that’s just my kind of thing :slight_smile:

The folks over at have a pretty nifty “universal” identifier system. All sorts of privacy and security features are built in to try to prevent the evil stuff. Could be quite useful if widespread.

You can register your name if you want, or something else like “j-beda” if you think that that is more convenient. And you can change the name and revoke relationships and stuff like that. Seems like a pretty good implementions.

Thanks Schnitte! I could never figure out exactly how the first name was encoded. I mean, I knew there was a list of certain names, and values attached to them by alphabet placement, but I could never figure out exactly what that list was. Cool beans!

Ever wondered aboot Canadian Zip codes? Actually the British system works as a grid, and if you do have the book in your hands, you can pretty much figure out where the house is. Quite efficient.

And as we delve into the other-worldly matters, in Finland there is a database system for people and buildings that really might seem “big brother” to you. After all, in a month or so MMDDYY-999X and MMDDYY-998X (the ssn is calculated by a certain code, that’d be me and the mrs as blokes are odd and the sheilas even) be moving to 092-0423-0003-002 F 101 (took the middle digits off my head) and next week the elections are, we’ll be getting our voting cards to the new address with both our correct constituencies marked. Or if we get MMDDYYA999X, he’ll get automatically enrolled to the local school at age 7…

Social Security Numbers:
First three designate state when issued. Next two used to split up by whenever 10k babies were born, starting at one number, then progressing:
01-09 odd, 10-98 even, 02-08 even, 11-99 odd.

Threr are over twenty “pocketbook” numbers, one is 078-00-1120. These were examples in wallets during the 1930s, and many people thought that buying the wallet gave them the number. Lots of problems for the IRS.

001-003 New Hampshire
004-007 Maine
008-009 Vermont
010-034 Massachusetts
035-039 Rhode Island
040-049 Connecticut
050-134 New York
135-158 New Jersey
159-211 Pennsylvania
212-220 Maryland
221-222 Delaware
223-231 Virginia
232-236 West Virginia
237-246 North Carolina
247-251 South Caronlina
252-260 Georgia
261-267 Florida*
268-302 Ohio
303-317 Indiana
318-361 Illinoise
362-386 Michigan
387-399 Wisconsin
400-407 Kentucky
408-415 Tennessee
416-424 Alabama
425-428 Mississippi
429-432 Arkansas
433-439 Louisiana
440-448 Oklahoma
449-467 Texas
468-477 Minnesota
478-485 Iowa
486-500 Missouri
501-502 North Dakota
503-504 South Dakota
505-508 Nebraska
509-515 Kansas
516-517 Montana
518-519 Idaho
520 Wyoming
521-524 Colorado
525 New Mexico
526-527 Arizona
528-529 Utah
530 Nevada
531-539 Washington
540-544 Oregon
545-573 California°
574 Alaska
575-576 Hawaii
577-579 D.C.
580 Virgin Islands
581-584 Puerto Rico§
586 Guam, American Samoa & all Pacific areas
587-588 Mississippi
589-595 Florida*
596-599 Puerto Rico§
600-601 Arizona
602-626 California°
700-729 Railroad Employees

Some states filled up and got more numbers. RR employees were the largest employment group when the program started, and moved around so much that it was better to give them their own numbers than nail them down to a state.

I all ready feel like an idiot for repeating most of Cecil’s article. Sorry. At least the wallet info was new, right?

As for running out of numbers, the current US pop is 281 million, and the fertility rate is 1.6, which is below the population replacement rate of 2.1. Immigration allows the total pop to keep increasing, though. Annual US births are around 5 million, so I guess there are about 2 million immigrants a year. Sound right? How many SSNs have we got left? We can count the years until we run out.

Almost a billion minus, let’s say 400 mil because people have died and it might give us an error in our favor, gives us 600 mil remaining numbers. If the fertility rate is maintained (it will probably keep decreasing, though) and the immigration rate (I have no idea), we won’t run out of numbers for 400/7 = 57 years.

Yeah, they’ll probably fix the system by then.


I’d suggest to make the first three characters alphanumeric. This allows for plenty of new blocks to assign without changing the general outline of the system; people who already have asn SSN could keep theirs, new could be allocated following the same scheme.

All-one! All-one! Dilute! Dilute!