Find-A-Code Focus Newsletter

CMS - How to Understand Medicare's ID Numbers (HIC or HICN)

September 23, 2014

A HIC number (HICN) is a Medicare beneficiary’s identification number. Also, remember when billing, ALWAYS use the name as it appears on the patient's Medicare card.

Both CMS and the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) issue Medicare HIC numbers. The format of a HIC number issued by CMS is a Social Security number followed by an alpha or alphanumeric Beneficiary Identification Code (BIC).

RRB numbers issued before 1964 are six-digit numbers preceded by an alpha character.

After 1964, the RRB began using Social Security numbers as Medicare beneficiary identification numbers preceded by an alpha character.


Below are the characteristics for each HIC type.

• 9- Digit Social Security number

• alpha suffix

        “A” beneficiary (retired worker or disabled worker)

        “B” spouse (spouse is over 65)

        “C” children (child or grandchild of a retiree)

        “D” divorced spouse, widow, widower

        "E" widowed mother

Additional numerical digits provide more detailed relationship information (e.g., “C1” first child )

pre-1964        •alpha prefix        •6-digit random numbers RRB

post-1964       •alpha prefix        •9-digit Social Security number


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