|Social Security Sleuthing|
The U.S. Social Security Act was passed in 1935. Was your ancestor one of the first 30 million U.S. residents who received Social Security numbers between November 1936 and June 1937, or one who applied for a number later? Social Security Administration (SSA) applications dating from 1936 can be helpful to the genealogist seeking facts about an ancestor. The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) of some 55 million deaths reported to the SSA is widely available, and can provide other important clues. Learn the facts about what is available for genealogists from SSA records, and why these twentieth-century resources can be so helpful to earlier research.
History of Social Security
A few dates in the Social Security historical timeline are important to genealogists. Knowing what the law required or allowed regarding Social Security at a given time allows researchers to analyze information that may be available for their ancestors.
14 Aug 1935
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law.
Approximately 30 million U.S. residents apply for and receive Social Security numbers.
1 Jan 1937
Workers begin acquiring credits toward old-age insurance benefits, and payroll tax (FICA) withholding begins.
Application for Social Security Number no longer includes employer information.
Electronic requests for benefits become commonly used, resulting in what is known as the Social Security Death Index.
Issuance of Social Security numbers beginning with 700-728 to railroad employees was discontinued.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare into law. Many citizens over age 65 receive Social Security cards for the first time.
Department of Defense begins using Social Security numbers instead of military service numbers to identify Armed Forces personnel.
SSA is required by law to issue Social Security numbers to any legally admitted alien upon entry, and to obtain evidence of age and citizenship or alien status and identity.
SSA begins assigning Social Security numbers and issuing cards centrally from Baltimore, and the area number assigned is based on the mailing address zip code from the application.
SSA program enables parents to automatically obtain a Social Security number for a newborn infant when the birth is registered with the state.
Next page > What's in a Number?
© 1999 Pamela Boyer Porter, CGRS, CGL. Used with Permission.