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Searching the Social Security Death Index

How to Locate Your Ancestors in the SSDI


The Social Security Death Index is a huge database containing vital information for more than 77 million people (primarily Americans) whose deaths have been reported to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Deaths included in this index may have been submitted by a survivor requesting benefits or in order to stop Social Security Benefits to the deceased. Most of the information (about 98%) included in this index dates from 1962, although some data is from as early as 1937. This is because 1962 is the year that the SSA began to use a computer database for processing requests for benefits. Many of the earlier records (1937-1962) have never been added to this computerized database.

Also included in the millions of records are approximately 400,000 railroad retirement records from the early 1900s to 1950s. These begin with numbers in the 700-728 range.

What You Can Learn From the Social Security Death Index

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is an excellent resource for finding information on Americans who died after the 1960s. A record in the Social Security Death Index will generally contain some or all of the following information: last name, first name, birth date, death date, Social Security number, the state of residence where the Social Security number (SSN) was issued, the last known residence and the location where the last benefit payment was sent. For individuals who died while residing outside of the U.S., the record may also include a special state or country residence code. Social Security records can help provide information needed to find a birth certificate, death certificate, obituary, maiden name, parents names, occupation or residence.

How to Search the Social Security Death Index

The Social Security Death Index is available as a free online database from numerous online organizations. There are some who charge for access to the Social Security Death index as well, but why pay when you can search it for free?
Free Social Security Death Index Search For best results when searching the Social Security Death Index, enter only one or two known facts and then search. If the individual had an unusual surname, you may even find it useful to search on just the surname. If the search results are too large, then add more information and search again. Get creative. Most Social Security Death Index databases will allow you to search on any combination of facts (such as a birth date and first name).

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