Genealogy – Social Security Death Index

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is an official list of American’s whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. The SSDI is available online (though only included deaths after 1965) and can be accessed for free at FamilySearch.org, GenealogyBank.com, and Ancestry.com. See the URLs below:

(screenshot from Genealogy Bank – https://www.genealogybank.com/explore/ssdi/all)

The SSDI is a public database maintained by the Social Security Administration of US citizens who had received social security benefits (so not everyone but still most people in the US) and died after 1965 (when the list was computerized). This is a more or less comprehensive list of Americans who have died.

Genealogy websites often include this data in their repositories.

More information on the list is available here:

https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Social_Security_Administration_Records

Freedom of Information Act Requests

You can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Social Security Administration to request the information listed in the deceased person’s original application form for a social security card, which is called an SS-5. You will have to pay a fee of about $20. You can request a copy of the original document, if it is available, or a computer generated list of the information from the form (this is called a “Numident printout”).

This service was surprisingly fast, I submitted my request for a Numident printout and received a response in the mail 16 days later.

For more information you can go to (https://www.ssa.gov/foia/request.html)

Process for FOIA request:

1 – Go to FOIA Online (https://foiaonline.gov/foiaonline/action/public/home) click on “create request” and then “begin”.

2 – in the next page, there is a drop down menu at the top where you choose which agency you are interested in. After you choose Social Security Administration a form appears for your SS-5/Numident request.

3 – Now you have to fill out the form, choose SS-5 or Numident, pay the fee, and hit “submit”

I requested a Numident printout and received my response in the mail 2 weeks later. Below is a redacted copy of what I received in the mail:

In particular, note the following pieces of information included in this response:

  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Death
  • Place of Birth
  • Place of Death
  • Social Security Number
  • Names of Parents

That’s it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s