Rootsweb Removes Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
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Rootsweb has removed the searchable Social Security Death Index (SSDI) from its site. The search form for this database has been replaced with the notification below.

social security death index ssdi removed from rootsweb

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Updated, searchable versions of the SSDI will apparently remain available at pay sites (like As of this writing, the Mormon Church-affiliated still offers a searchable version of the SSDI last-updated on October 31, 2011. Organizations will still be able to license access to the updated versions of the SSDI from the Social Security Administration's database vendor National Technical Information Service (NTIS). 

However, even the updated online versions of the SSDI and the Death Master File (DMF) everywhere also will be getting a lot less comprehensive (and useful). According to the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) database vendor National Technical Information Service (NTIS), effective November 1, 2011 the DMF will no longer include, "death records SSA receives through its contracts with the states, except in limited circumstances." According to NTIS, this will result in the removal of "approximately 4.2 million records from this file (as it currently exists) and add about 1 million fewer records annually." The use of state-supplied death information to the SSA is covered by The Social Security Act § 205r (42 USC 405).

Many researchers online point to the proposed "Keeping ID Safe Act of 2011" (KIDS Act of 2011) HR 3475 as the reason for the clamp-down on this information. One of the proposed laws stated goals is to prevent the Social Security Numbers of dead individuals (particularly children) from being used by identity thieves.

While the goal of thwarting identity thieves is a laudable one, this doesn't seem like the best way to do it. Perhaps Congress should be investigating updating and modernizing the SSA's computer storage and database systems or integrating the SSA system with the Internal Revenue Service's system in order to prevent the mis-use of the deceased's Social Security Numbers. An even easier fix would be to partially redact the Social Security Numbers included in the DMF and the SSDI. 

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