Governments have ways of tracking citizens, both living and dead, including record bodies established for such purpose. In the United States one of these record bodies is the Social Security Death Index.
The Social Security Death Index is a record of all deaths reported to the United States Social Security Administration, otherwise known as the SSA.
Since 1962, individuals possessing a social security number, whose deaths have been subsequently reported to the SSA, are listed in the Social Security Death Index.
A listing in the Social Security Death Index has the deceased’s first and last name. Middle initials have become standard since the 1990s. Listings show the deceased’s social security number, including where it was issued. The last known residence of the deceased is also listed, including where the last social security benefit was sent.
Death dates are always part of the listing. A listed month and year is standard for older listings. Deaths occurring post the year 2000 generally have a full death date.
Other not specifically listed information is obtainable by a researcher who applies for a copy of the dead person’s social security card application through a form SS-5.
By ordering an SS-5 a researcher can usually discover a deceased individual’s birth place, often the names of the dead person’s parents too, including the birth mother’s maiden name. With such data in hand many researchers find that they then have the wherewithal to find birth certificates, death certificates and work data relevant to the deceased.