Social Security Index
by Mandy Mathews, Family Historian
One search option available through OneGreatFamily.com is the Social Security Death index. This is a wonderful way to find out death dates and places, but did you know that it could lead you to much more valuable genealogical information?
During the Great Depression, citizens of the United States asked the government for assistance with their financial distress. President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the Social Security Act of 1935. The Act instigated taxation of employers and employees for the purpose of providing pensions to workers who reached the age of sixty-five. Social Security gave financial relief to many Americans during the Great Depression.
Like any government program, in order to become part of the Social Security system, workers had to fill out an application, the SS-5. Over the years, the SS-5 has changed, but much of the basic information still remains. Once you’ve found your ancestor in the Social Security Death Index, you can request a copy of their original Social Security Application.
The SS-5 is a great resource for learning more about individuals who died after 1960, and generally includes the following:
- Full name
- Full name at birth, including maiden name
- Last known mailing address
- Age at last birthday
- Date of birth
- Place of birth (city, county, State)
- Father's full name
- Mother's full name, including maiden name
- Race as indicated by the applicant
- Whether the applicant ever applied for Social Security or Railroad Retirement
- Current employer's name and address
- Date signed
- Applicant's signature
Requests of this form can only be made for deceased persons. Under the Freedom of Information Act, you don’t need to be a direct descendant. You can also obtain an application for yourself if necessary, and you may sign a release-of-information act to allow others to obtain one for you.
The following information is needed to request a copy of the SS-5:
- The individual’s full name
- The Social Security Number (if known)
- Evidence of death or a release-of-information
Send your request to:
Social Security Administration
OEO FOIA Workgroup
300 N. Greene Street
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022
Mark both the envelope and its contents: "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST" or "INFORMATION REQUEST."
If you supply the Social Security Number, the fee is $27.00. If the SSN is not known, the fee is $29.00, and you must send the person's full name, date and place of birth, and names of parents.
The response time can be up to 8 weeks, so be patient as the information is definitely worth the wait!