Requesting SSA’s Death Information

If your ancestor is recently deceased and is not in the SSDI, you must provide proof of death. If you cannot provide proof of death, the SSDA will only release SS-5 records for individuals who were born over years ago. In addition, parent names will be redacted unless the parents provide written consent, death of the parents is provided, or the number holder was born more than years ago and has been proven to be deceased.

One of the great things about SS-5 records is that they contain information that was most likely communicated directly by the ancestor. The application form will likely include the following information as of the date of application:. One additional online database should be included in any discussion of records of the Social Security Administration. These are extracts of claims filed with the Social Security Administration, and include life claims for disability or retirement benefits, death claims for survivor benefits, applications for a replacement SS card, or applications for changes to a SS card e.

An example from my own personal family research that shows how these records can be utilized is the case of Priscilla Fay Bolling. It provides her death date as 9 March , and she was buried in Bosque, Texas. But when was she born, and who were her parents? Her birth in also corresponded roughly to what was known.

Her SSDI entry, however, provides no information on where she was born or who her parents were. A search of the Social Security Applications and Claims Index reveals the same woman, but with significant additional information. This index entry provides a slightly different birth date—7 January —in Stephensville, Texas. It also includes parental information claiming her father was Elvis N. Jones and her mother was Cora E. Priscilla had several name changes.

According to her index entry, Priscilla Fay Bolling registered for a social security card in November , changed her name to Priscilla Fay Ripley in January , and changed her name to Priscilla Fay Reedy on 24 January She was alternately known as Mrs. John Ripley and Mrs.

The Social Security Death Index

Priscilla Bailey. However, because of the Social Security Applications and Claims Index entry, we know the marriage occurred, and when we found the record for the marriage of Priscilla Fay Jones to Benjamin Franklin Bolling, we knew we had the right person, and were able to obtain her birth certificate, confirming her parentage. In this case, since we were able to find the Social Security and Claims Index record, there was no need to order the SS-5 for Priscilla.

Using these three Social Security Administration record sources can be very beneficial to your genealogy research, as can be seen by the example discussed above. The search was done at least one year after the initial ED visit to allow ample time for completion of the database. If the patient was said to be dead, we requested the death certificate from the state in which they died usually California to confirm that it was a person from our study cohort.

We then had a research coordinator blinded to the results of the SSDI search, complete direct follow-up. This was done by contacting the patients themselves, their families or their primary care physicians to determine their vital status and date of death.

We used direct confirmation of death from these three sources as the criterion reference. All 30 patients deemed dead by the SSDI had confirmatory death certificates. There were a variety of causes of death in the selected cohort as illustrated in the Figure.

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For the patients with direct follow-up 20 were determined to be dead and 88 alive. Of the 12 patients not able to be contacted through direct follow-up, the SSDI indicated that 10 were dead and two alive. In this study we found that the readily available online SSDI was an accurate and facile database to determine death outcomes. It showed excellent sensitivity and specificity for those for whom we could complete direct follow-up, as well as information on patients who we could not contact, including 10 with confirmatory death certificates primary endpoint, The database is available online and does not require cost or special expertise.

However, its use does require institutional review board permission since protected health information PHI elements are used to search. However, it takes a formal submission with a two-month response time and has associated costs. A recent study showed the two databases to have comparable accuracy. However, these studies compared databases and did not use direct follow-up as the criterion reference. There were a variety of causes This can be done by name and other demographics. Studies not using the SSN in their searches found poorer sensitivity compared to when it was used, and investigators should beware of searches not using the SSN.


For our syncope cohort, this was a secondary analysis carried out up to two years after the index ED visit. Hence, we were not able to determine how current the online SSDI is, nor verify the governmental claim that it is completed within six months of a death. Pay stub must include your name, SSN and the name and address of your employer.

Car registration or title with current address for the current registration year. IRS Tax Return from the prior year. If you cannot provide any of these forms of identification or if you have any other questions related to these new restrictions and requirements, please call our office at or by e-mail at vitalrec nd.

Another change that will go into effect as a result of these legislative changes, will be three new types of certified copies of death records for use by the surviving family and the general public:. This certificate will be issued immediately after the funeral home registers the facts of death with our office. This copy will have limited demographic information about the deceased, but will include the social security number.

The inclusion of the social security number on this type of copy is critical because immediate family members can use this type of certificate to close bank accounts, secure discounted airline travel, transfer title of land or property, etc. This copy should be used for all banking and financial needs where the cause of death is not required. Once the medical portion of the record is completed by a physician or coroner, our office can issue to the immediate family a full and complete copy of the death record that includes the cause of death and a social security number.

Your source for information on vital records and more!

This type of copy is usually needed for life insurance matters and any other matter where the cause of death and the social security number are required. Family members who have a certification of the facts of death record will be able to exchange it for a certification of death record for up to 90 days after the date of death at no cost. This copy is the one that most families received in the past.

Other individuals, such as genealogists, sometimes need a copy of a death record.

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