March 17, 2008

SSDI: Fields and Search Tips

Many researchers do not know about, or forget to use the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). The SSDI at Rootsweb is probably the best available, and provides a couple of search options.

- The basic option permits searching on last name, first name, middle name or initial and/or, social security number. The surname can be searched using exact, soundex or metaphone spelling.

- In addition to the above, the advanced option permits searches using Zip, State, County, City, birth dates, death year and month and issue state.

Before becoming as dependent on it as I have in recent years, I often misinterpreted some of the data fields.

- Last Residence - This may or may not be the location where the person lived or died. Rootsweb believes that a better description for this field might be "the address of record."

- Last Benefit - This "can be the last residence" of the deceased "or, the location where the final lump-sum payment (burial benefit) was sent." Someone [a widow, child, etc.] in the "Last Benefit" zip received the burial benefit from Social Security.

Click on the title link to read more tips about using this valuable resource.

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