Social Security Death Index
I obtained the SSDI data from Ancestry.com, a private internet-based company that provides genealogy information for a fee.
I have also obtained data from another internet company, FamilySearch.org, that provides the same data for free:
Both companies obtain the information from the Social Security Administration. The following is from the Ancestry.com website.About U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
The Death Master File (DMF) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) currently contains over 89 million records and is updated weekly.
The file is created from internal SSA records of deceased persons possessing social security numbers and whose deaths were reported to the SSA.
Often this was done in connection with filing for death benefits by a family member, an attorney, a mortuary, etc. Each update of the DMF includes
corrections to old data as well as additional names. [NOTE: If someone is missing from the list, it may be that the benefit was never requested,
an error was made on the form requesting the benefit, or an error was made when entering the information into the SSDI.] Beginning in 2014,
legislative rules governing the SSDI changed. Going forward, records from the most recent 3 year period will not be available to Ancestry.com.
Once a record is older than 3 years (1095 days), it can be published. (Note: this does not appear to be a restriction for FamilySearch.org).
Why cant I see the Social Security Number? If the Social Security Number is not visible on the record index it is because Ancestry.com does not
provide this number in the Social Security Death Index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years.
This file includes the following information on each decedent, if the data is available to the SSA:
Social Security Number
Lump sum payment
The absence of a particular person in the SSDI is not proof this person is alive. Additionally, there is a possibility that incorrect records of death
have been entered on the DMF. The Social Security Administration does not guarantee the accuracy of the file.
Who is listed in the SSDI?
This database is an index to basic information about persons with Social Security numbers whose deaths have been reported to the Social Security Administration.
The death may have been reported by a survivor requesting benefits. It may have been reported in order to stop Social Security Benefits to the deceased.
Funeral homes often report deaths to the SSA as a service to family members. Beginning in 1962, the SSA began to use a computer database for processing requests for benefits.
About 98% percent of the people in the SSDI died after 1962, but a few death dates go back as far as 1937. Because legal Aliens in the U.S. can obtain a Social Security card,
their names may appear in the SSDI if their deaths were reported. Some 400,000 railroad retirees are also included in the SSDI.
The Social Security Death Index is not an index to all deceased individuals who have held Social Security Numbers. It is not a database of all deceased individuals
who have received Social Security Benefits, or whose families have received survivor benefits.
Where does the SSDI come from?
The following timeline offers a brief history of the SSDI:
14 Aug 1935 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law.
1936-1937 - Approximately 30 million U.S. residents apply for and receive Social Security numbers.
1 Jan 1937 - Workers begin acquiring credits toward old-age insurance benefits, and payroll tax (FICA) withholding begins.
1947 - Application for Social Security number no longer includes employer information.
1962 - Electronic requests for benefits become commonly used, resulting in what is known as the Social Security Death Index.
1963 - Issuance of Social Security numbers beginning with 700-728 to railroad employees was discontinued.
1965 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare into law. Many citizens over age 65 receive Social Security cards for the first time.
1967 - Department of Defense begins using Social Security numbers instead of military service numbers to identify Armed Forces personnel.
1972 - SSA is required by law to issue Social Security numbers to any legally admitted alien upon entry, and to obtain evidence of age and citizenship or alien status and identity.
1972 - SSA begins assigning Social Security numbers and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, and the area number assigned is based on the mailing address zip code from the application.
1989 - SSA program enables parents to automatically obtain a Social Security number for a newborn infant when the birth is registered with the state.
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