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Tips On Searching This Social Security Death Index

This Social Security Death Index is updated continuously to bring you the most up-to-date and comprehensive search tool available online.  However, due to human error, we cannot guarantee complete accuracy of the data provided by this death index.  For best searching results try entering only the name first.  If the search results are too broad, restrict the search by entering more information if known.  The more information you enter, the less results you will get.  Be sure to check for other spellings of both surnames and given names. 

And above all, remember this... Social Security was passed in 1935.  Don't expect to find very early death records here.  Most deaths will be 1962 or later however, you will find a few earlier ones including approximately 400,000 railroad retirement records 1900-1950s which have been added to this SSDI index.

 

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Begin your search of the Social Security Death Index at Ancestry.com

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Using the Social Security Death Index for Genealogy

Social Security Death Master File: A Much Misunderstood Index

In the summer of 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Since that time, over 370 million Social Security cards have been issued to the citizens and residents of the United States. The present-day Social Security Administration (SSA) is now larger than perhaps even Roosevelt envisioned.

Origin of the Social Security Death Master File
Over the last sixty years the SSA has increased both in terms of size and benefits offered and has dealt with resources and funds numbering in the trillions of dollars.

To assist in keeping track of individuals, the government assigns a numerical identification to each person involved in the program. Though it was originally intended for use within the Social Security Administration only, its value as a unique identifier has promoted its application in other areas of society, such as drivers' license ID numbers, state and federal tax programs, motor vehicle registration, military ID (starting with Vietnam era), etc.

As a by-product of this vast recordkeeping system, the SSA developed a file of those individuals in the program reported as deceased. This file is the Social Security Death Master File. Its present version contains over 50 million entries, which ranks it as one of the largest computer indexes with genealogical application, and certainly one of the most valuable for twentieth century research.

Titles Often Add to Confusion 
Myths have also arisen concerning the time span, content, and completeness of the file. Some of the titles given to commercial products containing the database are in themselves misleading. Calling the data a Social Security Death Benefits Index, for example, tries to communicate the idea that the index does not include the deaths of all Americans, as does the more generic title Social Security Death Index. However, even this term is misleading since an individual may be included in the database with
Read the rest of this article....

 

Common Misconceptions About Using The Social Security Death Index

The use of the Social Security Death Master File is not without its problems.  Because updated data is produced by the Social Security Administration on a quarterly basis, and perhaps because the database is provided to the public through private and commercial entities, there is more misunderstanding about this particular genealogical index than any other sold commercially.  This misunderstanding has resulted in a number of misconceptions about the Social Security Death Master File.  Here are a few of the most common... Read the rest of this article....

 

Social Security Death Index FAQ

The SSDI can be confusing at first glance.  Find answers to your questions like:

How Can I correct errors in the SSDI?

Why Can't I find the person I'm looking for?

Who is listed in the SSDI?

Where does the SSDI come from?

What information does the SSDI contain?

What do each of the fields in the database mean?

For answers to these questions, check the SSDI FAQ

How to Obtain a Copy of Someone's SS-5 Form

The SS-5 form is what your deceased ancestor filled out when they applied for Social Security.  It can be helpful to the genealogy researcher to obtain this form and the information it contains.  Click Here to access information from the Social Security Administration on the Freedom of Information Act and how to obtain social security records from the Social Security Administration. 

Print out the request for the SS-5 FORM

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This Social Security Death Index is updated on a continuing basis and is provided by Ancestry.com.