How do I access the Social Security Death Index?

Sometimes we need information about the death of a loved one or someone we know to apply for benefits or any other procedure that we need to do. In any case, it is also possible that we have seen a movie or heard something about ancestors and suddenly, we want to know about our family’s history. This information can be found through the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Accessing this information is much easier than it seems and you can do it through your computer.

Keep reading to find out what SSDI is about and how to locate the information they offer.

What Is Social Security Death Index (SSDI)?


The Social Security Death Index is a database that contains the record of approximately over 70 million deaths in our country. Although it is a large number of death records, this does not mean all deaths are registered, nevertheless, the vast majority are. SSDI is the most complete and reliable source of death registrations in the United States along with statistics from the National Death Index (NDI).

You are surely wondering what is the difference between the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) and the National Death Index (NDI)? And the answer is very simple:

  • The Social Security Death Index is a database that records the deaths of people who were registered with Social Security, and whose deaths have been reported to this administration to suspend the benefits received by the deceased person or to allow their survivors to be able to qualify for benefits.
  • Now, the National Death Index records the death data of approximately 90 million people in the United States, but its goal is to provide the medical research community with information about the public health and causes of death of the general population following investigation purposes. To access this information, you must meet a series of requirements, as it is federal information and not everyone can access it.

98% of the SSDI collected data is from the year 1962 and forward. However, it is also possible to find information from previous years, including the data of the railway retirements from 1900, however, it is a matter of investigating your specific case to find out if the information you need is available.

What Is Social Security Death Index Used For?

We already know that the information contained in the SSDI is related to the death of the people who were registered in the Social Security Administration (SSA), but what is this information used for or why is it important?

This information is useful and important since it contains almost all the data of the deceased, such as names, surnames, date of birth and death, state of residence where the person was first registered with the SSA, the last residence before the death, and where the last benefit payment was sent. Even if the person died outside the United States territory, the record could address a country identification code.

Where Can I Access To This Information?

Accessing SSDI can be a very simple task or, on the opposite, a very stressful and full of frustration experience. Many websites and organizations offer access to this type of information for free and many others charge you a fee. Picking which agency is up to you, although surely if it can be done for free, you may choose not to pay.

Here is a list of some websites that offer access to SSDI for free:

Searching the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in One Step

It is a very friendly platform and allows you to enter one or more details of the person whose information you need. If you don’t know some of the data correctly but have an idea, there is an option that allows you to search for estimated results based on the data you have.

Searching the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) in One Step website

Social Security Death Master File, Free

On this platform, you just have to write the name or select the person’s year of birth. In this database, there is information up to the year 2011.

Social Security Death Master File, Free

On this page, you must write the first and last name and optionally, the Social Security number, year of birth, and an estimate of the year of death.

Family Search – SSDI Search for free

Here, you have at your disposal several options such as type of family relationship, alternative name,e and even search by place of birth for the person whose data you need.

Family Search

Genealogy Bank – SSDI Search for free

Like the previous pages, this platform offers you the possibility to write the range of dates on which the person was born. In addition to providing identification data such as name, surname, last city of residence, or Social Security number.

Genealogy Bank

READ MORE: Social Security Benefits taxed after age 66

Tips For Using SSDI Search Pages

Before starting your search, we recommend you to have at hand all the information you can collect about the deceased person since as you may have realized, to use the benefits of the search patterns it is necessary to know at least the name of the person or their birth date.

If the person you are looking up to is a member of your family, try asking your more adult relatives who will surely know the information to which you do not have access.

Understanding the search patterns is also important; we recommend you don’t enter all the information about the person (name, surname, date of birth, date of death, last city of residence, Social Security number…). Instead, put little information first and then you add the rest so the search engine is progressively updated and your search obtains a more satisfactory result.

In addition, the data contained in the SSA can be very valuable if you need the information to obtain a death or birth certificate, parents’ names, residence, occupation, or maiden name of a person.