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   ERC: Genealogy and Family History: Records

   Social Security

 
THE SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX

The Social Security Death Index was created from the "Death Master File" of the Social Security Administration. This file was formed from the records of those who had been issued social security numbers, and whose death had been reported to the Social Security Administration. Most often, these records were created when a family member or the deceased applied for death benefits, or when a family member reported the death in order to stop Social Security Death Benefits to the deceased. There are, of course, people who never received a social security number and will not be listed here. Conversely, the absence of someone in the Social Security Death Index does not mean the person is alive. There is also the possibility that certain errors have been made in a person's death records as this information was added onto the Death Master File.

In August 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Within the following two years, over thirty million U.S. residents applied for and were given Social Security numbers. On 1 January 1937, workers started to accrue credit for "old-age insurance benefits," and FICA (payroll tax) started to be withheld from the wages of workers. The Social Security Administration first began using computers to process requests for benefits in 1962 (approximately two percent of the records on the death index are from as early as 1937, in addition to nearly 400,000 retired railroad employees.) When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Law in 1965, many over age sixty-five received Social Security cards.
 

By utilizing this index, one can find the following information about the deceased:

  • Last Name

  • First Name

  • Social Security Number

  • State Issued (the state that issued the person's social security number)

  • Birth Date (usually the day, month and year, but sometimes only the year)

  • Death Date

  • Last Residence (usually where the last S.S.  benefits were received)

  • Lump Sum Payment

There are various online sources that make available said information:

 

Ancestry.com (registration required)
FamilyTreeMaker
NewEnglandAncestors.org
RootsWeb.com


 


 




 

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