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Social Security Application with Details

SS-Abner Gibson 1940Having an official document directly filled out by a specific ancestor can provide so much information. One of the best examples is the original application a person filled out for the Social Security Administration. For the date they completed the application will be about names, addresses, occupation, birth date, exact place of birth, the mother’s full name, etc.

SS-Ida with the first benefit checkThis Federal government program started as the Social Security Act in August 1935. People started completing their S.S. applications and the first S.S. Cards were issued in November 1936, with over 37 million by the end of 1937. The first monthly benefit check was issued to Ida May Fuller for $22.54 on January 31, 1940.

The nine-digits of anyone’s S.S. number are based on three sections. The first three numbers stand for the area / geographical region the individual lives. For example 001-003 would be for New Hampshire, 004-007 would be for Maine and 008-009 for Vermont, for examples. The next two numbers are for a ‘group number’ which run from 01 to 99. The last four numbers are the series of numbers within each group. Those run from 0001 to 9999. No Social Security numbers are repeated, even with some 450 million that have been issued over the decades.

The first card issued was number 055-09-0001 which was issued to John D. Sweeney, Jr., age 23, of New Rochelle, New York.

SS-CardsTo learn more about your ancestors, make a request from Social Security Administration itself for a copy of the person’s original application for the SSN (this is called the SS-5 form) as long as the person died more than three years ago. The fee for a print copy of the application is $29 without the SSN. If you have the full number, the fee is $27. If you want a Computer Extract of Social Security Card Application the fee is $16 with the number and $18 without the number. Make your request on paper sent in the mail or online. You will need to provide proof of their death, using a dated obituary or death certificate. Include in the request the person’s full name, date and place of birth, and names of their parents.

The online site is SSA. If you mail your request, the address is:

Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Greene Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

Mark both the envelope and its contents: “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST”

Photos: SS application in 1940 for Abner Gibson, first check to Ida Fuller in January 1940 and SS cards.

Related genealogical blogs:

Social Security Death Index

Veterans Pension Cards


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