Alert
Close

Last chance – give now. Before 2014 ends, help struggling seniors. Donate

Highlights

Open

Life Reimagined $10,000 Sweepstakes
Happy African American couple
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad
Introducing RealPad by AARP
AARP Auto Buying Program

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

Most Popular
ARTICLES

Viewed

Free Fun!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Work
PROGRAMS

Best Employers for Workers Over 50

See the latest winners of this AARP recognition program.

Employer Resource Center

Attract and retain top talent in a changing workforce.

Social Security Mailbox

Are Social Security Numbers Reused?

No, but many people used Hilda Whitcher's number. Here's why

En español | Q. Do Social Security numbers get reassigned once a person dies?

A. No. The Social Security Administration does not reuse numbers. Since the program started in 1935, more than 450 million numbers have been assigned. That's about 5.5 million per year.

See also: How to maximize your Social Security benefits.

The SSA says it has enough to last several generations without reuse or changing the number of digits.

If you want to know exactly what the digits on your card mean, see this page on the Social Security website.

One famous instance of people using the same number began in 1938 when the E.H. Ferree Co. printed mock-up cards to show how they would fit into its wallets, which were sold in department stores across America. The number on the cards actually belonged to a secretary at the company, Hilda Schrader Whitcher.

Even though the fake cards were printed in red, were half the size of real cards and were marked "Specimen," more than 40,000 people claimed the number as their own.

Whitcher was issued a new number.

Also of interest: 10 things you should know about Social Security. >>

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for the Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question for the Social Security Mailbox? Check out the archive. If you don't find your answer there, send a query.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services, 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

Mujer en la parte de afuera de so negocio

Free quotes for members from the AARP® Small Business Insurance Program.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.