The US Social Security Death Index (or SSDI) is an old favorite among family history researchers, and if you haven’t heard about this record collection I’m going to explain what it is and how it is useful in your family history research.
If you are a United States citizen, you most likely have a social security number that was issued by the Social Security Administration. In 1935 Congress passed the Social Security Act to issue unique identification numbers that would help to track a person’s earnings in order to qualify for benefits. Those individuals born before 1935 applied for social security numbers, and individuals born after 1935 have generally been issued a number at birth. The US Social Security Death Index is one of the records collections associated with the application for and upkeep of that number by the government. This index serves as a listing of the deaths associated with each social security number reported to the Social Security Administration from 1962 to February 2014. The Index will typically contain the following:
Besides the little clues left in the index and the specific dates that can lead you to a variety of other records, you can also use the information found there to order the SS-5 Application for additional information. This record is fee based and can only be ordered directly from the Social Security Administration.Although, it seems like this collection only contains a small window of death information, the information that can be gleaned from the Social Security Death Index has been proven invaluable to research, and that’s what makes this collection an old favorite.The SSDI can be found at FamilySearch and Ancestry.