Access to Information Found on Social Security Applications (the SS-5) is Limited

The following is old news to genealogists who follow the news. However, when all this was taking place, I was busy with other things and didn’t get the opportunity to blog about it. Naturally, I disagree with the ruling. It just makes it more difficult for genealogists. The following excerpt was written from a Canadian’s point of view, but I’m guessing that many of us in the USA have the some opinion. (written by Dian Lynn Tibert for

Genealogists searching for ancestors or extended family in the United States have access to Social Security Death Index (SSDI). It is one of the largest databases containing genealogical information in that country, and it used to be easy to obtain full records. However, full access to this databank and Social Security Number records has changed.

Limits were first placed on the information a few years ago. At that time, requests for persons born after 1940 had the names of their parents blocked. This was done to protect the parents in case they were still alive. Still, if death of the parents could be proven, then their names were released.

Recently, this limitation was extended for individuals who were born up to one hundred years ago. The same policy for proving the parents’ are deceased applies.

Obviously, there are flaws in this new ruling. Who would expect the parents of someone born 99 years ago to be alive? Still, death must be proven to access the full record.

The only reason many researchers request a copy of the original SSN card is to learn the name of an individual’s parents. This new rule makes accessing these records essentially useless. As one comment on a website noted, where is a person to find an official death record for parents killed during the holocaust? For that matter, how can one request death records from another country if that country is unknown?

Read the full article.

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