Since , the SSA has used an electronic system, or computer, to maintain records of approximately 60 million deaths that have been reported to them.
8 Powerful Things Your Social Security Number Reveals About You
This database is in tape format, which is not searchable by the public. However, the U. Department of Commerce does sell these reels of magnetic tape to genealogical services that reformat the information on their own searchable computer databases or publish it on cd-roms.
These include Social Security number, last name and first name, date of death and date of birth, zip code of last residence, and zip code of lump sum payment recipient. As with any electronic data, problems exist in the original database, and these errors flow through to all versions of the Social Security Death Index. For example, the SSA database allows only twelve letters for last name and nine letters for first name, with all other letters being truncated, or left off.
Also, data entry errors do occur. If you can't find someone by first and last name and birth date, try searching by first name only and as much other information as you can to narrow the search. Be sure to visit Kathleen Hinckley's Family Detective web site. In addition to data entry errors, be aware that the death date may contain month and year only, especially before Another issue is that the zip code information may lead you in the wrong direction.
Zip codes were not used until , and the location assigned to a zip code is based on U. Postal Service assignment of localities to a given zip code. This may not be the town where the person actually lived, nor where final benefits were sent. For example, a zip code of results in two Missouri town names-Chesterfield, and Town and Country. Do not be fooled into thinking the zip code or locality of last residence is where the person died. They may have last resided in Patterson, Missouri, but actually died in a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. In that case, you would never find a death certificate in Missouri.
Having told you all the pitfalls to watch out for, I will say that you can still find many valuable clues in the SSDI.
Let's start with who is not in the SSDI. Everyone who received a Social Security number or paid withholding tax is not in the database.
My grandmother, who paid withholding taxes most of her life, looked forward to collecting benefits upon retirement at age 60 in Her death was not reported to the Social Security Administration by anyone. Everyone who received Social Security benefits is not in the database. A young man died in , leaving a pregnant wife. The child received Social Security benefits based on her father's benefits until she was eighteen years old. Yet no record of her father exists in the SSDI.
Because his death was not reported to the Social Security Administration. He was 26 years old when he died, so there was no reason to notify the SSA. A survivor may have requested death benefits from the SSA. A family member may have notified the SSA to stop benefits to the deceased. A funeral home may have notified the SSA as a service to the family. When does this index begin?
Social Security Search
The SSA began to use a computer database in About 98 percent of the people in the SSDI died after , although a few deaths do date back as far as This version offers one feature that others do not -- it reports foreign death residences. In addition, several software companies include the SSDI as part of their deluxe programs, or offer it for sale separately. Be selective as you use different versions of searchable SSDI databases. Try all of them and decide for yourself which is the most flexible, offering you the option to search by first name only, along with birth date, to try to find those females whose married names you don't know.
Use them to find out what happened to your great uncle, you have no idea when he died or where his family went.
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Search by his name and birth date, and see if a record reveals a location of last residence or location where his benefits were sent. When you find a person in the SSDI, you will glean a few facts that you may not have known. Take it one step beyond these facts to learn more. To understand the limitations of criminal background searches, it is useful to view this online presentation. In the case of a family emergency, contact the American Red Cross. Otherwise, consult one of the individual service member locators listed at the US Consumer Information Service web page, linked below.
The following resources have been selected as a starting point to assist parents who have experienced the tragedy of a child abduction or who have a child who is a runaway. As the Team Hope organization, linked below, notes, " According to Federal law, the police are obligated to take the missing persons report and enter the information into the NCIC National Crime Information Center without a waiting period.
If you encounter problems reporting your child as missing, please share these laws with your police department. A number of resources exist to aid those in search of birth parents, including books, websites, adoption registries, and "search angels" who do research for free. A selected few of these are highlighted below. Several military publications regularly publish ads from veterans seeking to get in touch with others with whom they served. A wide array of websites, most of which require registration, also track reunions of Army units, Navy ships, etc.
Not only do we accept tracing requests from residents who lost contact with family members overseas, but we also search locally for people whose overseas relatives believe last resided in our county. Our national headquarters in Washington, D. As with all international services, this tracing service is provided free of charge. Note that the Red Cross cannot accept requests when there is insufficient information to conduct a search; or when it is for genealogical research; or tracing regarding legal matters such as wills, child custody etc. To begin a search, call your local American Red Cross chapter.
There are also services that work to assist individuals searching for information about relatives who were separated during the holocaust.
The Salvation Army operates an international locator service for the purpose of trying to restore or sustain family relationships, by locating relatives who for various reasons have become out of touch. To seek this assistance, you must contact the regional office in your area. The majority of requests is for help in tracing a divorced spouse on behalf of young children who want to make contact with their estranged parent. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill NAMI publishes a useful guide, linked below, for parents and loved ones trying to reach homeless and mentally ill children and relatives.
To identify local support groups and service agencies, Dallas area residents should consult our Community Information Database , and search for "homeless" as a subject heading. There are situations -- a civil disturbance, the outbreak of war, a family emergency -- when it becomes imperative for families to reach their children or other close family members who are U.
The Department of State operates an Office of Citizens Services, linked below, which can be very helpful in such circumstances. In other cases, it may be more appropriate to contact the American Red Cross. Individuals who have been incarcerated in the Federal or in State prison systems can often be located by contacting the relevant locator services, linked below. Dallas area residents can search the Library's Community Information Database using the subject term prisoner re-entry to locate agencies and nonprofit organizations who are engaged in providing support and assistance of various kinds.