25 November 2011

Social Security Death Index Under Attack

Now it's the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) that is under attack by legislators. 

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that federal legislators have introduced legislation to block our access to the SSDI. (Note: In following this story, keep in mind that the Social Security Administration maintains what it calls the Death Master File. This is released to genealogy database providers like Ancestry, FamilySearch, and WorldVitalRecords who offer it to researchers as the Social Security Death Index.)

The Sun-Times reports that Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) has unveiled the “Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011.” The report states: "He criticized Social Security’s publicly released Death Master File, which has been used for at least a decade by thieves to access Social Security numbers, file bogus tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and collect refunds."

The newspaper report further concludes that "Johnson’s 'KIDS Act' would effectively end public access to the death file, which now can be searched for a small fee or even for free on genealogy and other online sites. The files contain the Social Security numbers and other personal information that can easily be used by identity thieves." Click here for the newspaper report.

Over in the Senate, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has introduced a bill that would give give the Social Security Administration the discretion to hold back Social Security numbers for two years following an person's death. An ABC TV report has details.

The catalyst for introducing this legislation apparently was another newspaper article: "ID thieves cash in on death of Lake Forest 5-year-old." While this story is a sad one, the knee-jerk reaction to it by our congressmen is even sadder.

For what appears to be a comprehensive, balanced report on the situation, click here.

Like most of these situations, the parties involved are making many claims and counterclaims. It may be months before we learn whether another avenue of research will remain available to us.

1 comment:

  1. I resent you even thinking you could post my S.S. number AFTER I'M GONE- The information on this number belongs to Me--Not For Sale-My geneological searches have never included anyone's S.S. number- It has NEVER been Neccessary in my hundred years search-Shame on you and your "reasons"- I see this move as a money making scheme-NO REAL >COMMON< SENSE!