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Contacting the SSA for Information

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Social Security Death Index
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Social Security Death Index:
Contacting the Social Security Administration
for Additional Information


Records potentially available from Social Security Administration (SSA) include the application for a Social Security Number (form SS-5) and information from the "claims folder" for past recipients of benefits.

The SSA sends one of two documents. The first is a photo-reproduction from microfilm of the original application. It contains the person's name, date and place of birth, and parents' names, as they were given when the person applied for the number. The second is referred to as a Numident printout, which is sent if the microfilm is no longer available. This printout may not contain all the information you would get in the original application.

Often the SSA will block out parents' names in these documents, as the parents may still be living and the SSA wishes to protect privacy rights. If, however, you can provide proof of death for the parents along with information sufficient to link the deceased, then the SSA will disclose their names. Researchers may want to proactively provide this proof in the initial SS-5 request.

To obtain this information, you will need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the SSA.

RootsWeb has made the process easy for you. After completing a search, you will find a link in the "Tools" column labeled "SS-5 letter." By clicking on the link, you will find a form letter with the name, Social Security Number, and pertinent dates from the Death Index already filled in. You will need to do the following before mailing the request to the SSA:

  • Add your personal contact information to the letter. Add your name, address, and daytime telephone number.

  • Include a check or money order made payable to the Social Security Administration. The SSA also accepts MasterCard, Visa, and Discover credit cards. Include the card number and expiration date if you are using a credit card.

    The current fee is $27 per record when the Social Security Number is known, and $29 when the number is unknown or incorrect. You are charged the fee even if the SSA is unable to locate any information on the person.

It may take up to six months to receive a report, so please be patient. RootsWeb has no way to expedite your order, or to determine when it will be sent.

The SSA may have records on persons not listed in the SSDI. To request information on those not listed, follow the process outlined above. Requests should be sent to:

Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Green Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

The SSA did not begin keeping records until 1936; no records exist for people who died before then. The SSA will not release information on living persons without their consent.