As you start your research, however, it should be noted that there have been incidents of more than one person being accidentally assigned the same Social Security number. The first three numbers, the area number, are determined by geographical region of the local Social Security office where it was issued, prior to This does not mean that the individual lived in the place where the card was issued as, at that time, you could apply for a card at any local Social Security office.
Please note that the mailing address does not have to match the place of residence. The middle two numbers represent the group number, which range from 01 to Group numbers are not assigned consecutively but instead are assigned in this order:.
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The final four digits are the serial numbers: a straight numerical sequence from to within a group. Ronald Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. From the index, we see that he was born on 6 February , died on 5 June , and had his Social Security number issued in Iowa. The iconic American author John Steinbeck is recorded in this index.
His birth was recorded as 27 February and his death as taking place in December His Social Security number was issued in New York, which is also the state in which he died. Born on 18 January and died in November His Social Security number was issued in the state of California. It further notes that she died on 29 June and that her Social Security number was issued in New York.
Begin your search broadly by searching on just a first and last name. Then you can narrow your search by adding a birth or death year. A-Z of record sets. Learn more Search tips Useful links. Who First name s Name variants. Last name Name variants. All fields are optional. When Birth year. However, it's a good clue for the family sleuth!
Since , the SSA has used an electronic system, or computer, to maintain records of approximately 60 million deaths that have been reported to them. 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.
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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.
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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.
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When does this index begin? 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.
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.