Social Security Death Index Search Discontinued by RootsWeb

by Laurie Castillo, Inc., the parent entity for Roots-Web, Ancestry, and Fold3 [formerly Foot-note], recently came to the decision to remove the Social Security Death Index database search. The RootsWeb SSDI search had, for years, been the most preferred in the industry. No other SSDI search database was more frequently updated or more current. No other SSDI search engine was more robust and consistently effective. No other SSDI search window had more options or more flexibility with the options. RootsWeb added the ability to add notes or “Postems” to an entry, allowing researchers to share additional information. Rootsweb was the first to add a clickable link to instantly print a letter to the SS Administration in Washington, DC, for the purpose of ordering the SS5, the original Social Security Application. This database will be sorely missed. It was the SSDI of choice, most often recommended by serious researchers.

Then why remove it from RootsWeb?
When you go to you will find the following explanation:
Due to sensitivities around the information in this data-base, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on Visit the Social Security Death Index page to be directly connected to this collection.

When you click on the SSDI link given, it takes you to the SSDI page. The search there has been filtered and your search results may or may not contain the actual Social Security Number or SSN. On the SSDI page see under the heading About the Social Security Death Index:

Why can’t I see the Social Security Number?
If the Social Security Number is not visible on the record index it is because does not provide this number in the Social Security Death Index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years.

What brought this on?
In order to be claimed as a tax deduction, a child must have a Social Security Number. The SSN can be applied for at the same time as the birth certificate. The SS Card then simply arrives in the mail. Since this is the easiest way to obtain an SSN, parents often take advantage of the opportunity. Thus many new babies already have an SSN. An SSDI entry for a child with an SSN who died shortly after birth would be posted in the same timely manner as would that for a deceased
adult. Following the filing of their next set of tax returns, numerous bereaved parents have subsequently received noti-fication that someone had already filed a claim using the Social Security number for their deceased child. These Social Security Numbers could have easily been harvested from the SSDI entries for these children. There are other potential misuses for this information. Thus, Inc., made a decision that impacts all who do U.S. research.

Why does, Inc., still have SSDI available on and Fold3??
The SSDI is a popular and useful database genealogically. The and Fold3 versions are “filtered” versions which hopefully eliminate some of the abuses.
Where can I go for a free SSDI search now? What information is included in the search results at each of these sites?
FOLD3 “Completely Free and Updated Weekly”
Registration/ Login: not re-quired
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, place of last resi-dence and, at most, the last four digits of the SSN.
How Current: “Updated Weekly” according to the banner on the search page.

Registration/ Login: not required
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, place of issuance, last residence [if contained in original record], full SSN, esti-mated age at death.
How Current: As of 10 Jan 2012 it contains 90,732,247 records. Database was last up-dated 5 Nov 2011.

AMERICAN ANCESTORS at www.AmericanAncestors.Org [From New England Historic Genealogical Society]
Free SSDI search is under the category of Vital Records on the Advanced Search or use the link
Registration/Login: Not required
Search Results: Birth and Death information, State Issued, Last Residence Location, Payment location, and full SSN
How Current: *[Not certain how of-ten this one is updated. My great-uncle who died in July 2011 does not show up on this one, but does on others.]


Search for name and click on SSDI results or use the GenealogyBank SSDI Link
Registration/Login: You search and possible hits are displayed. If you click on one of them a box appears with the instructions, “Please register to view the Social Secu-rity Death Index for FREE!” All you need to list is a first name and an email address. The promise is given that they “will never sell or rent your email address to anyone.”
Search Results: Birth and Death dates, State of issuance. Not all entries in any version of the SSDI contain the last known residence. In this database, if the last known resi-dence is listed, the city, county, state, and zip code are given along with the latitude and longitude! Also given is the estimated age at death right down to years, months and days. There is an information line entitled “Confirmation” and for my great-uncle Warren it says “Proven.” They must have his death certificate on file. No part of the So-cial Security Number is given.
How Current? On 11 January 2012, I found entries as recent as 5 Jan 2012. Wow!

What if I need to order the original Social Security ap-plication form, known as the SS5?
Some of these web searches no longer provide the SSN or the complete SSN.

How will that impact my ability to order the nec-essary record?
Go to the Ancestry Social Security Death Index page and scroll down to the article “About the Social Security Death Index.” At the bottom of the page there is a link for Fre-quently Asked Questions or FAQs about the SSDI.

When you get to the FAQ list, click on the question in the list “How can I get a copy of the original records?”
If you have the Social Security Number the charge is $27. Remember that not everyone who had a SSN is on the SSDI. Other records that might contain the SSN include: tax papers, death certificate, employment records, voter registration records, funeral home records, education re-cords, Social Security Card, and other personal papers.

If you still cannot locate the number, for $29 you may order an “SSN search” from the Social Security Admini-stration. Provide as much information as you can about the birth date, place, and parents of the person in question. Remember you can only order information about a de-ceased person so it would be well to supply any proof of death you may have available.

For more information see the online form SSA-711, Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record. While it is NOT necessary to use this form to make a re-quest, it does supply additional helpful information about Social Security records and provide the necessary mailing addresses.

We are lucky to still have the opportunity to use these wonderful Social Security Records.

NOTE: There has been much talk about the removal of the SSDI from Rootsweb over the last month. For more
information you may want to view two articles which discuss this event.

German Workshop Offered
Salt Lake City—Genealogists and family history enthusiasts looking for help with German research will be interested in a free workshop being held on Saturday, 28 January 2012 in the Family History Library.
“German Research Workshop” 9:00 a.m. to 12:00
 Beginning to Intermediate Skills
 Requires pre-registration. Please be sure to register early as the class size is limited to 63.
 Prior to the workshop, please watch the following two Ger-man Online classes at—Learn—Germany:
• Germany Beginning Research Series Lesson 1: Getting Started
• Germany Beginning Research Series Lesson 2: Learn About Historical Background.
 This workshop will involve classroom instruction, group discussions, and will provide a workbook at no cost to each participant.
 This workshop was taught at the FGS Conference in 2011.
To view the class schedule online, go to The workshop will be held in the Main Floor classroom of the Family History Library, located west of Temple Square on West Temple between North Temple and South Temple streets in downtown Salt Lake City. On Saturdays, parking is free to library patrons and is located behind the Church History Museum.

To register for free classes, send an email to or call 801-240-4950.
(News Release, 30 December 2011)

Death Certificates and Where to Find Them

By Sherry Stevens, professional genealogist

October is upon us again, the month when all things “deathly” are fun! And what could be more fun than finding your long-lost ancestor’s death certificate? Here is my handy guide for “haunting” it down:

These sites offer free death certificates:

Arizona Includes 1844-1960 & Birth Index 1855-1935. Also includes images of the certificates, although the early years are incomplete.
California- Includes 1940-1997.
Georgia- Includes 1914-1927. The years 1928-1930 are available at
Kentucky Project is ongoing and not complete at this time.
Michigan Includes 1897- 1920.
Missouri Includes 1910-1960 and free downloadable images of each death certificate.
Utah Includes 1904-1958
West Virginia Includes 1853-1970.

These sites offer free indexes, but charge a fee for a copy of the original certificate:

Idaho Includes 1911-1956.
Illinois Includes 1916-1950.
Indiana- Includes pre-1882 deaths.
Kentucky Includes 1911-1986.
Louisiana Includes 1911–1960, certified copies only.
Maine Includes 1960-2009.
Maryland- Includes the twenty-three counties other than Baltimore City for 1898-1944, and for Baltimore City from 1875 to 1972.
Michigan Includes 1867-1897.
Missouri Includes pre-1910 birth & death records.
Montana Includes 1882-2002. Incomplete.
New Jersey Includes June 1878-June 1887.
New Mexico Includes 1899-1949.
North Dakota Includes 1881 to one year ago.
Ohio Includes 1913-1944.
Oregon Includes 1903-1930.
South Carolina- Includes 1915-1960.
Tennessee Includes 1908-1932.
Texas- Includes 1964-4998.
Washington Includes 1907-1960.

If your state is not listed above:

Check the following free sites: Death certificates are also available at for a subscription fee, but access to some of Ancestry’s records is free at your local library or FamilySearch center. Also try Googling the name of the state in which your ancestor died, followed by “death certificates”. You will usually be able to find the website of the state’s department of heath or vital statistics in this way, where you can order a copy of your ancestor’s certificate. Fees usually range from $5.00-$25.00 for uncertified copies, and slightly more for certified copies.

Sherry StevensSherry Stevens is a professional researcher, writer, lecturer, and the owner of GenPro’s, a genealogical research firm. A descendant of Danish immigrants, she specializes in the records of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the United States. For more information on research services in these or other locations, please contact Sherry at:

Genealogy 101: Using the Social Security Death Index

by Meri Rees
Genealogy 101

The is a list of persons who had a Social Security number, who are deceased, and whose death was reported to the Social Security Administration. It has a few records of deaths prior to 1962 but is generally a listing of those whose deaths were reported to the Social Security administration after 1962. It is the closest thing we have to a national death index. The Federal Social Security Death Index is a valuable tool for genealogists. The index may yield the complete name, birth date and death date of the individual, the last place of residence, the social security number as well as the state it was issued in.

If you find a person in the Social Security Death Index that you feel may be the person you are researching you can order a copy of the Application for a Social Security Number (form SS-5). To obtain any information from SSA you will need to file a Freedom of Information Act Request.

The application is filled out by the applicant [or guardian if a minor] and may list the complete name, birthplace as well as the birth date, age at time of application, names of parents, address and phone number at time of application, sex, race and if the person has ever applied for a social security, railroad or tax account number.

The Social Security Death Index can be searched FREE at most genealogical records sites such as or . If your ancestor died before 1962 but you can’t find them in the Death Index and you believe they may have applied for a Social Security Card, you can still obtain a copy of their SS-5 (you will need to provide proof of death). The first SS-5s were used in late 1936. For details see… The Social Security Administration’s Guide to Freedom of Information Act Requests

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