The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Social Security Records

Social Security Death Index  

You can view the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) online via many genealogy websites including Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, GenealogyBank, Fold3, and Findmypast.  A person who died before 1962 is not likely to be on the SSDI.  If the date of a person’s death is known, and that person is not on the SSDI, it is likely the family never filed for the death benefit.  

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From the SSDI, you can glean information such as dates of birth and death; place of last benefit; Social Security number; and what state the Social Security number was issued in.  Getting a copy of the application can be most helpful. These documents list the person’s date of birth, place of birth, parents’ names, address at the time of application and as a bonus, you get an original signature!  

Once you find the information for the person you are searching you can request a copy of the Social Security record from the Social Security website. Our United States: Vital Records course will teach you more about using the Social Security Death Index for your research.  

Death Indexes Online

US Death Indexes 

There are many different death indexes online. Please note that most indexes do not include every year. Remember that a name in an index is not proof that this is the researcher’s person! Often the person you are seeking is not the first to have this name and won’t be the last! Never assume the indexed name is your person and stop your research at that point.  

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Always be creative in finding various ways to search for what you might be seeking. Go to the FamilySearch website and choose Catalog from the Search drop-down menu. Another way to search is to conduct a Place search and then enter the name of the county and state.  

One other place to check for online death indexes is Google. Conduct a Google search on the phrase, free “death index.”  

Research Plan 

Go beyond the index. Creating a research plan for more documents is necessary. The first item on the research plan should be finding an obituary. Next, would be checking with the cemetery where the individual was interred. Personalize a research plan to your needs. If you do not have the exact date of death, then the research continues. With our United States: Vital Records course you will learn more about researching and locating a death index.  

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