Thursday, June 07, 2007

SSDI follow up

THANK-YOU for writing. Your responses add much to our genealogy “how-to” discussions. Ol’ Myrt’s prior blog about the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) reported the usual and customary points to consider. However, there is always more to the story, as Paul Harvey would tell you.

Because we have different research experiences, it is important to share so that each of us can better understand a particular record group. The following readers’ responses about the SSDI are no exception. THANKS gentlemen!

Fred Dittmar who points out the value of having post-em note capability with the version of the Social Security Death Index. The “last known residence” for his mother’s entry in the SSDI was HIS nearest Social Security Office where he filed notice of her death. So her entry would really throw someone off course. Thank heavens Fred added the post-em that shows up as noted below on the results screen when searching for:

SURNAME: Dittmar

Click to find out more about RootsWeb’s SSDI.

Observe there is (1) post-em for this SSDI entry, boxed in red above. When one clicks on that link, the following message is displayed. There is a way for other researchers to contact Fred, if they decipher his email address as shown below:

Click to find out more about RootsWeb’s SSDI.

Tom Kemp rightly suggests modification of Ol’ Myrt’s previous statement about the pre-1965 deaths being sketchy. He reports that there are 2,372,946 deaths recorded in the SSDI between 1937 and 1964. I don't know how many deaths were actually reported during that time period.


Click to find out more about GenealogyBank’s SSDI

When Ol’ Myrt searched the web for more SSDI screen shots, another important point jumped out at me. The SSDI is updated WEEKLY at That is marvelous if you need a timely report. Be aware that the date of reporting might be several weeks after the next of kin has received the death certificate from the state. In the case of my step-mother, we didn’t receive the death certificate for six weeks, owing to power outages and backlogs of work. Then it was another week or so before I was able to leave Dad alone and report the death at our local Social Security office.

Non-subsribers may view the free results of a SSDI search at in a “brief record” format that includes the name, state of last residence (remember the Dittmar example above), in addition to the birth and death years.

Click to find out more about GenealogyBank’s SSDI.

Subscribers of the GenealogyBank website may click to view details:

Click to find out more about GenealogyBank’s SSDI.

This entry shows details about my maternal grandmother Frances McDonnell (written as Mcdonnell). Among the places listed for her last residence is the town of Tukwilla, which is the correct town. RootsWeb solves the “McD” problem by presenting the names in all CAPS. However, despite the availability of additional town locations (evidenced by’s results screen above) note that RootsWeb’s detailed results screen shown below only lists Seattle, King County, Washington as the last known residence. Well, Seattle is a 25 minute ride from Tukwilla, with the traffic challenges of I-5 and the 405 interchange less than a mile from my grandmother’s apartment.

Click to find out more about RootsWeb’s SSDI.

In my previous blog, I incorrectly stated that provides the SSDI for free. As with GenealogyBank, the folks at provide a brief reference to my grandmother’s death, including her name (with McDonnell correctly capitalized), death year, county & state of last residence, and a link to order the record.

Click to find out more about Ancestry’s SSDI. subscribers may click to view the full record in horizontal format by logging in. Those who aren’t may be able to use whatever “free access for X days” offer is available at that point in time. NOTE: Clicking to “View Record” merely switches the view from horizontal to vertical. By no means is this an original document.

Regardless of which website researchers use to find an ancestor in the SSDI, the process should not stop with the index entry. Search the SSDI by name in order to determine the Social Security Number for the ancestor, greatly facilitating your request of the Social Security Administration for a copy of his original SS-5 application for the social security number. Although the SS-5 is an original document, it provides “secondary” evidence of birth date & place, and the name of the individual’s parents. At that point, competent researchers turn to the locality mentioned to find more reliable evidence of birth and parentage.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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