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How to Search the Social Security Death Index

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of death records created from the United States Social Security Administration's Death Index Master File. The SSDI generally includes all deaths that were reported to the Social Security from 1962 to the present, but you're sometimes able to find information on individuals who passed away prior to 1962.

Due to the Freedom of Information Act, the Social Security Death Index is available to the public for searching. Although the database is not currently 100% complete, it is updated monthly with new records.

How do you access the Social Security Death Index?

There are a few ways to access the Social Security Death Index. Some companies charge you a subscription fee to gain access to the Social Security Death Index and others allow you to browse the Social Security Death Index for free.

What information is included on the Social Security Death Index?

If you perform a free social security death index search and locate the index record for a deceased individual, the information on the record typically includes the following:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • The birth date and death date of the deceased
  • The city and state of their last residence
  • The location where their social security card was issued
  • The last 4 digits of their Social Security number

This information won't be shown to you if you opt for a paid service, such as Ancestry, until you sign up and pay the subscription fee.

Is there a Social Security Death Index official site?

The Social Security Administration has an official page on their website dedicated to the Social Security Death Index, though this page is meant for states and other agencies to request death records, not individuals. If you are an executor or an individual trying to access death records, you'll need to use a paid subscription service or a free lookup tool to browse the Social Security Death Index.

Does the Social Security Death Index show all deaths?

The Social Security Death Index is not a perfect index -- its records have only been kept officially since 1962, so if you're looking for information on a death that occurred before that, you'll most likely run into some incomplete information or inaccurate information. Some names can be listed in error and some databases are a few years out of date, depending on the tool you use.

How to Search the Social Security Death Index

Step 1: Select a tool. Here are some common to search the Social Security Death Index (some of these may require you to pay):

Fold3 - Free Ancestry - Starting at $24.99 per month FamilySearch - Possibly free GenealogyBank - Free

Step 2: Gather information. Once you've selected your tool, the process of searching the Social Security Death Index is relatively straightforward. To get started, you'll need at least some of the following information:

  • The first and last name of the deceased
  • The date of birth
  • The date of death
  • The city and state where they last resided

You may be able to locate death records even without all of the above information -- Social Security Death Index search tools give you the ability to perform broad searches using just the first and last name or even searching for keywords.

Step 3: Search through the records. After you've gathered your information and selected your tool, simply input the information you currently have and perform the search. Chances are, multiple records will pop up so you'll most likely need to click through a few records to locate the one you're looking for.

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Last updated April 7, 2022
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