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)

Records Preservation and Access Committee regarding the SSDI

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2012


Genealogy Community Responds To Efforts To Remove Access to Social Security
Death Index and Other Records

February 7, 2012– Austin, TX: The Records Preservation & Access Committee
(RPAC) – a joint coalition of international genealogical societies
representing millions of genealogists and family historians – announces the
launch of its Stop ID Theft NOW! campaign with its We The People petition
posted at

Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job

Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from
recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous
genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity
thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.

The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it
were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created:
to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the
Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the
thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.

Tax Fraud and Identity Theft: Genealogists Are Not To Blame

The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is
proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as
other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its
information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the
original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.

Loss of Access to SSDI Affects More Than Genealogists

The SSDI is accessed by many different companies, non-profits and other
entities besides individuals researching their family history. Forensic
specialists utilize the SSDI when reuniting remains of military veterans
with their next-of-kin and descendants. Law offices, banks and insurance
companies utilize the SSDI to resolve probate cases and to locate heirs.

All of these entities would be required to spend more money and more time
leveraging other resources of information when the SSDI has served this
purpose, uninterrupted, for over a decade.

RPAC Petitions Obama Administration

The We the People petition, now posted at and accepting
signatures, has a simple yet effective mission:

Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund
claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.
[Note: Visitors to the website must log in to sign the
petition, or click Create an Account to register. Once registered, return
to to sign the petition.]

No need for lengthy hearings in front of a Congressional committee. No need
for filing statements for or against any House action. No need to waste time
and effort which could be directed to more pressing national issues. In
fact, the National Taxpayer Advocate in 2011 issued suggestions which do not
require additional legislation but can be implemented collaboratively
between the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) almost immediately
in time to impact the current tax filing season.

About Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC)

The Records Preservation & Access Committee (RPAC) was formed to advise the
genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of
genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on means to affect
legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and

The genealogical community works together through The Records Preservation
and Access Committee (RPAC), which today includes The National Genealogical
Society (NGS), the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and the
International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) as voting
members. The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the Board for
Certification of Genealogists (BCG), the American Society of Genealogists
(ASG), ProQuest and serve as participating members.

To learn more visit

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Family History Blitz

 As I mentioned in my last post, our family just came into a huge list of names and dates. And it seems like the subject of compiling everything in one place has been in the air every time my cousins and I get together. People have records here and records there, stuff shoved into shoe boxes or old photo albums. Because we can’t shake the nagging feeling that we need to make an inventory of all the records we have, we are getting together this Saturday for a family history blitz.

This means we’re going to go online and see what we have already. Then we’re going to take all the loose bits of paper and notes on the backs of photos and make sure everything is accounted for. At the end, we’ll know where we’re missing information, where our efforts should placed. 

Has anyone out there ever done this? Did it work? Let me know.