I had this article prepared and ready to go yesterday and it’s almost old news by now, but still front-page information.

A significant change has been made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that will change the amount of information available to the public on the SSA’s Death Master File starting around 1936 with the online deaths available 1962.

Representative Sam Johnson of Texas has introduced legislation to remove all public access to the Death Master File and changes have already been made to exclude 36% expected next year. Additionally the historical index of approx 4.8 million names will unavailable to the public.

Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act was last modified on Wednesday Jul 27, 2011 (5 months ago) prevents the SSA from making public death records received from the States except in controlled circumstances.

Ancestry.com has removed the free Rootsweb service with the following notice:

Due to sensitivities around the information in this database, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available on our free Rootsweb service but is accessible to search on Ancestry.com. Visit the Social Security Death Index page to be directly connected to this collection.

When you access the Social Security Index look-up on the subscription Ancestry.com web site has a message stating:Ancestry.com does not provide this number in the Social Security Death Index for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years.

The State of Virginia removed their records from public viewing 6 weeks ago. I checked FamilySearch.org and was able to find quite recent versions of the SSDI still searchable. I’m sure there are others familiar databases out there with somewhat recent information. It will be interesting to see what happens to this existing information in the future.

It’s a great shame for bona fide family history researchers and genealogists, but I do understand the need to make the SSDI index private. There’s a huge problem with spoilers out there looking to steal  social security numbers of the deceased for their own nefarious purposes.

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3 Comments on Social Security Death Index (SSDI) no longer available to the public

  1. Tom says:

    Once again the innocent have to be punished.

  2. Carolyn L Carr says:

    I was always astounded that the social security numbers were online. But I was reassured that they were deactivated and it was not problem. The problem now is several people who have passed away have disappeared. I would never know that several good friends who I lost touch with in the past few years were gone without that index – could they not take out the SSNs when making it available online??? It was a valuable tool and as usual – though they say private enterprise is better – it isn’t!!!

  3. Ernestine says:

    At one time, it was said that showing the SSNs was a way to instantly catch anyone who would use the numbers illegally. The information is still available if you care to pay a minimum of $995 to access it for a year. It shouldn’t have been difficult to have the numbers removed or truncated, and still offer the information for free. Was the information removed because of its sensitive nature, or was it removed because the SSA and/or genealogy websites realized they could make some money off it?

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