Obtaining a Copy of Your Relative’s Social Security Death Records

Obtaining a Copy of Your Relative’s Social Security Death Records

There are a lot of reasons why it may be helpful to search the social security death records as all those people signed up for the social security program has provided such valuable information as a person’s SSN, his last name and first name, birth date, in some a special state/country residence code, last residence ZIP-code (not necessarily the place of death), and the death date. The Social Security Death Index is an immense master-file containing information of tens of millions of people whose deaths had been reported to the Social Security Administration / SSA. Yet relying on social security death records may be insufficient and even of no use to some.

People who may find it helpful searching information about their relatives in the database are those whose relatives’ deaths are reported to the SSA. Death information encoded in the files may have been possible only if submitted by anyone of his surviving family in order to request for their survivors’ benefits. Others may have come from requests to end the social security program for their deceased member (in cases as social security retirement or disability). In these cases, the social security death records can help provide lost information needed to recover other documents.

On the other hand, social security death records may not include information of persons whose deaths occurred earlier than 1962. In fact, only 2% of the social security death records include data from as early as 1937. The primary reason is that it is only in the year 1962 that the SSA began to use the computer in processing the deceased relatives’ request for the social security benefits and other claims. Other earlier social security death records have never been added to the computerized database. Also during the development phase of the Social Security, not all groups of individuals were classified as eligible for the program. The relative you are looking for may not at all in the first place been registered in the program. However, included in the millions of death records from the 1900’s-1950’s are those involving eligible railroad retirements. In other cases, the information entry may be lost due to typographical or other errors.

If you think it possible to locate your ancestor’s records, then start looking into the free social security death-index search engines offered by various online organizations. You can use information you already have to narrow down your searches. Start with the surname and add other combination information such as first name, birth date, etc. Name titles may also be included in the given/surname. Middle names are not included in the records although some are included with the first name; sometimes nick names or initials are typed. Also make sure to try all possible married names. Remember that death dates of cases before the year 1988 had been encoded to include month and year only. Also the zip code of the last residence of your relative may not be his actual location of death. Other information you can use are the SSN, state of issue, or the last benefit information.

After you have found the social security death records listing of your ancestor, then you can proceed to requesting a copy of his original social security application.


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