Searching the Social Security Death Index
We all know death and taxes are inevitable facts of life. The Social
Security Administration maintains a master index of reported deaths.
This index was computerized in 1962 so if the individual died prior to
that, they may not be included. Nor will people who died without a
Social Security Number. If a person is not listed in the death index,
this doesnít necessarily mean they are still amongst the living, it
merely means their death has not been reported to the Social Security
There are numerous reasons to search the Social Security Death Index,
one of which is identity theft prevention and another is genealogical
research. Information found here verifies that a Social Security Number
hasnít been stolen from a dead person. Financial organizations, pension
funds, and government agencies can verify that the person they are
sending checks to isnít dead. For genealogy buffs, the Social Security
Death Index also provides clues for learning about ancestors including
date of birth, date of death and more.
The Social Security Administration makes the database available online
to organizations that must pay for a subscription. This database is
updated regularly and contains over 65 million reported deaths. You can
find many internet websites that will allow you to search the Social
Security Death Index, some for a fee, others for free.
One free website for searching the index is www.rootsweb.com. You can
find information by filling out a simple form with as little or as much
information as you have. The simplified form here asks for first name,
last name, middle name and Social Security Number. If you only know the
first and last name, thatís fine, go ahead and enter it and numerous
results will be displayed.
By clicking on the advanced search button you can enter further data
such as last residence information by state, city or even zip code. You
can also enter date of birth or date of death if known.
Once youíve found the personís record, you can click a link to generate
a letter requesting the personís application for a Social Security card
(Form SS-5: Social Security Number Record Third Party Request for
Photocopy) or search Ancestry.com for more information using a free
trial or a paid subscription.
For privacy reasons, the copy of the application for a Social Security
card may have the personís parents names blacked out. If you can provide
proof of the parents deaths, you can receive a copy without their names
Remember that the deaths listed in the Social Security Death Index are
limited. Not everyone who has received a SSN and has died will be
listed. Common reasons for this include but are not limited to the
ē The death occurred before computerization in 1962.
ē The death was never reported to Social Security.
ē The person didnít participate in Social Security.
ē Survivor death benefits may still be going to a surviving spouse or
ē Human error, typos, mixed up dates, transposed numbers, misinterpreted
If you havenít found the person in the Social Security Death Index, you
can write to the Social Security Administration for assistance by filing
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and asking for a copy of the
personís application for a Social Security card. Be sure to enclose fees
of $27 for a record where the SSN is known or $29 for a record where the
SSN is unknown and request
Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Green Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022
Order right now and get Unlimited Access to
sources for the Social Security Death Index, Death Records by City,
County State, Deceased name and much more!