ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Genealogy Tips: How to Use the Social Security Death Index

Updated on August 31, 2012

In this modern day of privacy concerns and identity theft, it's become routine to guard your Social Security information. We think of it as off limits, kept secret by the government. But there's actually a great deal of information readily available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) – the information for deceased individuals.

Many genealogists have made use of the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI. The SSDI doesn't contain everyone who ever had a Social Security card, but does list everyone for whom a lump-sum death benefit was paid. The basic database includes the person's date of death, Social Security number, and the location where the benefit was paid. These are useful bits of information. Living people aren't listed, and there will be nothing in the database if there was no death benefit paid, or if the death was never reported to the SSA.

The SSDI's biggest benefit to researchers, however, is probably in using its information as a key to unlock a more detailed source. Did you know that you can order a copy of the original Social Security Application Form (SS-5)? The SS-5 is a treasure trove of information, and contains:

  • Full name
  • Full name at birth (including maiden name)
  • Mailing address at the time of application
  • Age at last birthday
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth (city, county, state)
  • Father's full name (regardless of whether living or dead)
  • Mother's full name (regardless of whether living or dead)
  • Sex and race
  • Ever applied for a Social Security number of railroad retirement before? (yes/no)
  • Current employer's name and address
  • Applicant's signature and date signed

A copy of the SS-5 is only available to third parties if the individual has been reported to the SSA as deceased, so you don't have to worry that someone could get your information, but the process for making the request is simple. No surprise when dealing with a government agency, there is a form to complete, Form L-997, or "Social Security Number Record – Third Party Request for Extract or Photocopy." The SSA does not make the form available on line, but it can be ordered by calling 1-800-772-1213. The form itself is free, but there is a fee for the copy of the SS-5 - $7.00 if the Social Security number is known, $16.00 if it is unknown.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      6 years ago

      Thanks - a great tip for us beginners.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)