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The Social Security Death Index provides birth date, death date, last known residence, and where the last payment was sent for persons who received benefits from the Social Security Administration. Approximately 98% of the people in this index died after 1962; the earliest date died in 1937. Those who held social security numbers but did not receive benefits or whose death was not reported to the administration, will not be listed. This index will help you pinpoint the date an ancestor died or at least narrow it to a month and year, making it easier to obtain the right death certificate from a county or state record office.
The Social Security Administration has a microfilmed copy of every individual’s Social Security application (Form SS-5), as well as claim files. These documents contain information not given in the index, including: Full name at birth, mailing address, age at last birthday, date of birth, place of birth, father’s full name, mother’s full name, sex, race, employer’s name and address, and date signed. Copies of Form SS-5 can be obtained from the Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration did not begin keeping records until November 1936. Many numident records of older individuals, primarily those born in 1910 or earlier, are abbreviated records that do not contain the names of the individual’s parents and may not contain the place of birth. Their records do not contain anyone born before 1865.
The Social Security Death Index appears online at several locations. We’ve ranked the websites (1 being the best) below in order of accessibility, meaning, if they’re free or paid, and if you can access them without having first to register, and how quickly they update their data.
- Fold3 Social Security Death Index
Hosted at Fold3, this database is updated monthly, is completely free, and requires no registration to view the records. They have also created memorials around these records, and users of Fold3 may have added additional information about the individual.
- United States Social Security Death Index
Hosted at Family Search, the genealogy site of the Church of Latter Day Saints, this database is updated on a monthly basis, is completely free, and requires no registration to view the records.
- Ancestry’s Social Security Death Index
Ancestry now hides their Social Security Index behind a paid wall. Users of Family Tree Maker or Ancestry’s Online Family Trees should use this if they’re paid members, due to its simplicity in adding records to your family tree.