Once you've found your ancestor in the Social Security Death Index, you may want to request a copy of your ancestor's original Social Security Application. An excellent record for genealogical information, the SS-5 is the application form used by an individual to enroll in the U.S. Social Security program.
The SS-5, or Application for Social Security Number is a great resource for learning more about individuals who died after about 1960, and generally includes the following:
- Full name
- Full name at birth, including maiden name
- Present mailing address
- Age at last birthday
- Date of birth
- Place of birth (city, county, State)
- Father's full name
- Mother's full name, including maiden name
- Race as indicated by the applicant
- Whether the applicant ever applied for Social Security or Railroad Retirement before
- Current employer's name and address
- Date signed
- Applicant's signature
How to Request a Copy of the SS-5The easiest way to request a copy of the SS-5 form for your ancestor is to apply online through the Social Security Administration:
A printable version of this SS-5 Application Form is also available for mail-in requests
Alternatively, you can send (1) the person's name, (2) the person's Social Security Number (if known), and (3) either evidence of death or a release-of-information statement signed by the person about whom the information is sought, to:
Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Greene Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022
Mark both the envelope and its contents: "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST " or "INFORMATION REQUEST."
If you supply the Social Security Number, the fee is $27.00. If the SSN is not known, the fee is $29.00, and you must send the person's full name, date and place of birth, and names of parents. If you have a Social Security Number from family records or a death certificate, but are unable to locate the individual in the SSDI, then I strongly suggest you include proof of death with your application, as it will likely be returned to you otherwise with that request.
The usual wait time for receiving a copy of a Social Security Application Form is 6-8 weeks, so be prepared to be patient! Online applications are generally a bit quicker - often with a turnaround time of 3-4 weeks, although this may vary based on demand.
Kimberly Powell, About.com's Genealogy Guide since 2000, is a professional genealogist and the author of "Everything Family Tree, 2nd Edition." Click here for more information on Kimberly Powell.