12 February 2012

Social Security Death Index access is threatened. We need to react!

I was planning to wax (maybe eloquently) about the recent political mess regarding access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). That's what we genealogists call it but the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls it the Death Master File. I use the SSDI frequently in my research. It helps me in research cases for county, state, and federal court cases, in cases of locating missing heirs, to help Indian tribes with enrollment issues, to clear land titles, and many other issues including researching my own family history. It has become more important to me in recent years as I am trying to locate more relatives or their descendants in relation to hereditary medical issues. I don't want to lose this resource.

I wish all banks, the IRS, state tax departments, credit card companies, insurance providers, and other businesses would check this long-time easily available resource to see if someone is illegitimately using a deceased person's Social Security number. The SSA is part of the federal government and so is the IRS. But the IRS hasn't used the FREE SSDI to check if all Social Security numbers used on tax returns are legitimate! Yes, you read that correctly. SSDI access is being threatened due to fraudulent tax returns. Duh, the IRS should have been checking the numbers. We all need to sign a petition to keep the SSDI accessible and to have the IRS use it.

My words stop here other than to give you three vital tasks:
  • I suggest you read the words of a colleague and friend, Polly Kimmitt, CG, President of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council:  http://pk-pollyblog.blogspot.com/. Her eloquent entry about the SSDI and the genealogical community is dated February 6th and says it better than I could.
  • Then check out the Records Preservation and Access section of the Federation of Genealogical Societies website for more details. RPAC is a committee of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. It is supported by other major genealogical organizations. http://fgs.org/
  • Lastly vote on the issue  http://wh.gov/khE  and then contact all your congressional reps to let them know your feelings on the subject. Together we can get this addressed.
Heck, there's one more thing for you to do! Share this info and links with fellow family historians and everyone else. We need lots of signatures by March.

p.s. I signed the petition as #1429

1 comment:

Charles Hansen said...

That is not entirely true, if you send in a tax return electronically with the death date for a taxpayer or spouse and you do not have the correct date it will be rejected, so they do check the death index for dates of death, but since there is no place for a date for a child that dies those are probably never checked.