The Social Security Death Index(SSDI) is a database of death records, created by the Social Security Administration(SSA) for persons who had a Social Security Number(SSN) and whose deaths were reported to the SSA. to turn to for those who are starting at the very beginning on their family history, perhaps looking for information about Grandparents or Great-Grandparents.

Mormon Family HistoryWhy should I obtain an ancestors Social Security Number(SSN)?

* While a SSN is often unnecessary to obtaining a death certificate for your ancestor of interest, the fee for that death certificate will be less expensive and the search quicker if you can provide a SSN.

* To obtain a SSN your ancestor had to fill out an SS-5 form. The SS-5 form is a valuable primary source in your research. It will contain your ancestors full name, residence, age, date of birth, place of birth, sex, race, place of employ, father’s full name, mother’s full name, date signed and the signature of your ancestor. So while it contains similar information to that on a death certificate, it may provide more correct or possibly different information, as your ancestor filled out the SS-5 form their self. While a SSN is not necessary to obtaining a SS-5 form the price will be less expensive and the search quicker if you can provide the SSN.

My Great-Grandfather’s SS-5 Form

Where can I find the Social Security Death Index(SSDI)?

* Happily, the SSDI is available for search through many internet websites and most of them offer it free. My preferred SSDI search of choice is on Rootsweb. On the Rootsweb home page listed under, Search Engines and Databases you will see, third link down Social Security Death Index (Deaths). Clicking on this link will take you to the search options page. You can search with the options first provided or click on, Advanced Search for more options. Once finished filling out whichever options you have chosen, click on Submit to look through possible matches.

How do I get a copy of my ancestors SS-5 form?

* When you have clicked the submit button as mentioned above, you will be able to view possible matches, and you will see them in table format. Once you have found your ancestor, you can click on SS-5 Letter located in the second to last column on the table. This will take you to a letter that you simply print, fill out, sign and mail with a check or money order to the SSA.

I would definitely recommend getting an SS-5 form for any ancestor that had a Social Security Number. You never know what you will find. I taught an internet genealogy course a couple of years ago at a yearly workshop, and after class an acquaintance of mine told me she was looking for information on her grandmother, and was happy to have learned about the SS-5 form. Some time later we ran into each other and she told me how thrilled she was about the information that had been on her Grandmother’s form. Her Grandmother had immigrated to the U.S. as a young girl and had dropped her given name, which was difficult for Americans to pronounce, in favor of Mary. That is all her descendants had ever known her by, but since it was not her actual name, they could find no records of her in her birth country. But on her SS-5 form she included her real name in parenthesis, finally making it possible for this friend to begin research in her Grandmother’s home country, in hopes of discovering more ancestors on that line.

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