How to Use the Social Security Death Index to Perform Family History Research According to

September 17 06:48 2020
How to Use the Social Security Death Index to Perform Family History Research According to

Modern Americans love learning about their families’ histories. There are plenty of resources available to help, but family researchers need to learn how to use them. Read on to find out about the Social Security Death Index – Wikipedia information, and more.

What Is the SSDI?

The SSDI, or SS Death Index, lists basic information about people who died in the 20th century. An index offers a simplified overview of the actual records, so the SSDI only contains basic details such as names, death dates, and last places of residence. It can still be very helpful for those who want to explore their families’ unique histories.

How to Use the SSDI

Genealogy researchers can use the SSDI to locate deceased relatives. Once they have the basic information from this index, they can use it to order Social Security applications from the SSA. This allows researchers to find new information like birthplaces, parents’ names, and maiden names.

Since the SSDI also lists the last residence on file for the deceased person, it may also be possible to find a surviving spouse or child at the address. Consulting with another family member who was closer to the deceased can give researchers new leads and insight into the person’s life. It can also make obtaining other records, such as death certificates, funeral home records, or detailed biographical information much easier.

The Best Way to Search the SSDI

It’s easiest to search the SSDI using the resources available on third-party research sites like Genealogy Bank. Doing so gives researchers access to additional resources like local newspaper obituaries that can help them cross-reference information. Using a family history research site also makes it possible to refine searches by adding birth and death years, zip codes, and other information.

Search Tips

Even when using a genealogy database, researchers will need to take a few steps to ensure accuracy. They should also cross-reference information whenever possible. Here are a few other tips that could help:

  • Use only the first 12 letters of the first name

  • Use middle initials instead of full names

  • Search for female ancestors using married names, not maiden names

  • Don’t be afraid to search by name variations or nicknames

  • Check for alternate name spellings

  • Keep in mind that the SSDI will only turn up information if the ancestor’s SSN was linked to his or her death record or a surviving spouse requested the Social Security death benefit

How to Use the Information

It’s up to family researchers to decide how they want to use the information that turns up in their searches, but according to, having a detailed understanding of the family’s history can help bring surviving members together. Consider starting with a family tree, then trying to find additional biographical information about ancestors using newspaper records. The information can even be compiled into book form for self-publishing. Self-published family histories make wonderful gifts.

The Bottom Line

The SSDI provides an excellent jumping-off point for family researchers. If researchers know how to use it, they can get all the information required to perform more in-depth searches. Take advantage of genealogy websites to make this process easier.

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