Monday, November 30, 2009

Case Study: McDonnell Part II - SSDI

The Social Security Death Index listing for my maternal grandmother provides her last known residence -- but that still doesn't mean she died in Washington, does it?

BIRTH 1905 or 1908?

The birth year 1905 in the SSDI is different from the 1908 birth year listed on my grandmother's funeral card.

Remember, when applying for a Social Security number, one has to present proof of birth. So is the birth year a typo in the SSDI? Was my grandmother's birth date incorrectly stated on the funeral card?

Regardless of the cause, this is difference must be accounted for and requires additional research.

Fortunately, most modern genealogy management programs allow for additional events. In the case of the different birth date, Ol' Myrt here added a second birth event to accommodate the 1905 date, listing the SSDI as the source. See how this shows up in RootsMagic (click to view larger version of this image.)


Although a secondary source of death information, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is considered more reliable than my grandmother's funeral card, because one had to present a copy of the official death certificate to the Social Security office when reporting the death. I did this just a few years ago when my step-mother passed away. Information provided by GenealogyBank about the SSDI includes:
"The Social Security Deathfile Index (SSDI), is the index prepared by the Social Security Administration to track the deaths of persons who held a Social Security card or had a Railroad pension. In the beginning the agency relied on the families of the deceased to report a person's death, but, now death certificates require the recording of the Social Security number. This information is automatically sent by each state to the Social Security Administration, providing a nearly comprehensive list of all deaths in the U.S. and for American citizens who died abroad."
However, the SSDI isn't without its problems. Not all deaths are reported to the Social Security. And some of the earlier deaths that were reported may not be found in this index. Keep in mind that one did not have to receive Social Security benefits to have one's death reported and appearing in the SSDI.

For Further Reading

Ol' Myrt has gone to the Social Security website to order a copy of my grandmother's application for her original Social Security number. The online order form indicated the cost will be $27 since I can provide her SS#. I also typed in all known names for my grandmother, provided the name of her parents, and included my contact info, phone and email. After entering my credit card info, I received the following confirmation of my purchase request:

Request for Deceased Individual's Social Security Record

20 days! WOW! I'll report to my DearREADERS on the actual turn-around time for the receipt of this document.

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

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