Friday, November 18, 2011

Social Security Death Index

A great way of finding a date of death for someone in all states for recent times is the Social Security Death Index, which is available at Ancestry.com or Rootsweb.com (for free). Starting in 1937, certain employed people could participate in this federal retirement program. Based on certain conditions, some of these people made it into the Death Index. The point is that you will not find everyone in the Death Index. When you find someone in the Index, you will have a birthdate and a month and year of death, maybe even the day. You may also get one or two locations of death; one might be where the check was being sent; the other might be a residence.

Ancestry.com entry for the Social Security Death Index
James Earl Jones, 241-18-6528
Note the date of birth as 1921

If you find an entry for a person of interest in the Death Index, you can order the original application.  Ancestry will generate a letter for you.  The fee used to be $7. A few years ago, the fee jumped to $27. This is unfortunate, as the application contains great information, such as birthdate, place, and names of parents.

Note that the information in the Index lists the date of birth for James Earl Jones as 1921; but the original application has 1920 as the year of birth.  This is an interesting point and is why you need to order the original application.
Copy of the original application for a Social Security Number
James Earl Jones
Note that the year of birth he provided was 1920
Sometimes you may have a Social Security Number for someone who is deceased, but you cannot find the person or number in the Death Index.  For $29, you can request a search of the number.  I have tried this with a few people, but have not had success in locating a record with Social Security.

The death certificate of Nellie Duryea provides a Social Security Number.
The Number is not listed in the Death Index.
I requested a search of the Social Security Number listed on the death certificate for Nellie Duryea,
but the Social Security Administration reported not finding a record.