Using the First Three Digits
The first social security numbers were issued in 1936. In these numbers, the first three digits will tell you where the person was born or where they were living when the number was issued. Numbers are not automatically issued, they must be applied for. Some parents have chosen to get a social security number when the child was born, and others have waited until the child has begun grade school. There are still some adults who have chosen to not have a social security number for personal reasons. Even if an adult has their number changed, the paper trail still follows them in their records.
It's common practice in genealogy research to use the first digits of the social security number to find the state of origin. It can also be used in verifying attendance in the public education system. Use the chart at mrfa.org to determine the state associated with the first three digits of the number you are researching.
The Social Security Death Index
The death index will show you the birth and death year and the place of death of any deceased person. Once you know the place of death, you can begin checking court house records. These records include real estate, property ownership and tax records.
Criminal Record Case Information
Criminal record searches can be done by name. Use the birth month, day, address, and nationality for verification. This information is available through the court system websites and by physically visiting the court house. Juvenile and Domestic records are not available to the public, but you can check civil records.
Zabasearch is an online website that will bring up a listing of persons in their database who have the name you input. It also gives current and previous addresses, as well as known relatives. All these names come from public records such as utility companies, so not every name will be listed. Start with the names that have a matching city and state for the first three digits of the number you are researching. You can also search by social security number.
Watch Common Names
Finding someone by social security number is not as difficult as it seems. Actually, having the number makes it much easier to find someone. Be very thorough when checking common names such as Jones or Smith.
Put together all the information you have gathered, and you should have a very clear picture of where the person may be or where their relatives are.