Social Security Death Index / SSDI

Social Security Death Index / SSDI

Since the signing of the Social Security Act by President Roosevelt and its final issuance to hundreds of thousands of individuals since November 1936, the security system had been more gainful than originally expected. Yet along with the economists’ approval and the public’s support, the social security approach had led to many myths and misconceptions. Apart from the social security number delusions are the Social Security Death-Index false impressions.

The Social Security Death Index refers to the master-file of all registered social security card holders whose accounts with the social security had already been discharged due to the holder’s death. All these records were assigned distinct social security numbers originally intended for use only within the Social Security Administration in order to organize the files of each person involved in the program – a record-keeping schema so to speak. The value of the SSN’s though eventually became a vast record-keeping system, a persons’ “identifier”. And what gained more attention are the separate files of those individuals reported as deceased as interesting as ‘digging the grave’ – the Social Security Death Index.

To some it is an enthralling investigative action, yet provided that the ‘investigator’ is not misled and has ample knowledge about his source.

First to know are the facts about the Social Security Death Index. Government agencies recognize the value of the social security information in identifying citizens necessary for use in other areas such as state/federal tax programs, military or driver’s-license ID, motor-vehicle registration, and the like applications. It’s also true and most significant that the Social Security Death-Index contains over 50 million entries – one of the largest computer indexes hence one of the most valuable sources of information – credible as twentieth century research source database with genealogical relevance; yet not certainly for all.

The Social Security Death Index may contain 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, yet relying on the Social Security Death Master-File may be insufficient and even of no use to some.

Although the Social Security Death Index is called an index, it doesn’t contain the deaths of all Americans (also people may be included though they didn’t receive their security benefits). The Death Index may also not be sufficient for researching people born in the earlier centuries as the 1800’s. However that a few Canadians, Mexicans, and others may be included, not all Americans are included in the database. Apparently because during the development phase of the Social Security, not all groups of individuals were classified as eligible for the program.
For purposes of genealogical search involving those individuals who have passed away in the last generation, family documents, recollections, oral interviews, and other available material may still provide much more information than the Master Death File. However the major benefit of the Social Security Death Index at present may lie in its ability to aid further research or verify other information sources.


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