United States Social Security Administration Records

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Social Security Death Index (SSDI)[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

The Social Security Administration updates the Death Index monthly. However, every site does not update their database every month. Therefore, what you find at one site may not be available at another site.

Social Security Death Index (SSDI) Introduction[edit | edit source]

Many people who live in the U.S. have a social security card issued by the U.S. government. A person was registered when he or she filled in an application form supplied by the Social Security Administration and was given a card showing his or her own social security number. The family of a deceased person could claim a small monetary benefit if the deceased had a social security number and the death was reported to the administration.

The Social Security Death Index is a list of deceased individuals whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. It has been kept since 1962. The index includes a few deaths even before that, beginning in 1937.

More information[edit | edit source]

SSDI Contents[edit | edit source]

The SSDI typically has the following information on the individuals:

  • Name
  • Social security number
  • State issued
  • Birth date
  • Death date
  • Last residence
  • Lump sum payment

Why some individuals are not in the SSDI[edit | edit source]

  • Unemployed: Those that never worked may not have had a social security number. It wasn't until 1987 that assigning a social security at birth was instituted as an option for parents. In 1971, it was required for all US citizens to have a social security number if they wanted to receive any income from employment.
  • Self-employed: Those that were self-employed did not qualify for a social security number. This included farmers, many doctors, attorneys and other self-employed professionals.
  • Railroad employees: The Railroad Act provided those employed in the railroad industry with benefits and did not need social security.
  • Married women: Women are found in the index by their legal name. If they were married, they would be listed under their married name, not maiden name.
  • Deaths were not recorded:
  • From 1937 to 1961: very few deaths were recorded.
  • From 1962-1971, about 50 percent of deceased persons can be found in the SSDI.
  • From 1972 to 2005, about 85 percent of deceased persons can be found in the SSDI.

Social Security Applications and Claims Index[edit | edit source]

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

This databsae contains information given to the Social Security Administration through the application or claims process. It contains about 49 million people. Some records may include unusual abbreviations or truncated entries for county and other names or punctuation errors in the data.

Claims and Applications Contents[edit | edit source]

The database typically has the following information on the individuals:

  • Applicant's full name
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Citizenship
  • Sex
  • Father's name
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Race/ethnic description (optional)

Additionally you might find changes made to the applicant's record, including name changes or information on claims that were recorded.

SS-5 Application[edit | edit source]

After you find your ancestor in the Social Security Death Index and the Social Security Applications and Claims Index, you may want to order a copy of their SS-5 Application. The current fee is USD $27 per record when the Social Security Number is known, and USD $29 when the number is unknown or incorrect. You are charged the fee even if the SSA is unable to locate any information on the person. It may take up to six months to receive a report, so please be patient.

The SS-5 application is important to a family history researcher because of the detail it provides. The SS-5 application contains the following information:

  • Applicant's full name
  • Age at last birthday
  • Date and place of birth
  • Father and mother's full name (including the mother's maiden name)
  • Gender
  • Date signed and applicant's signature

For information on ordering a copy of an SS-5, see the Social Security Administration website.
The pdf for ordering a deceased individual's Social Security Application is available here.