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Ways The Social Security Death Index Can Help With Your Research

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Ways The Social Security Death Index Can Help With Your Research

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) is the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information.

The organization maintains roughly three million publications which are available to colleges, companies, and the general public.

These publications range in topics from Aeronautics to Urban and Regional Technology and Development. However, one of the more interesting products that NTIS provides is the Social Security death index, also known as the Death Master File.

This index could be very beneficial in a variety of ways when conducting particular types of research.

Currently, NTIS states that it is “the only authorized official distributor of the Death Master File on the Web.” Meaning that the NTIS is the only organization that produces and maintains this information for the most accurate and current information.

The Death Master File contains “the complete and official Social Security Administration (SSA) database extract, as well as updates to the full file of persons reported to SSA as being deceased.”

Most often, organizations use the social security death index to verify the death of any American who died after 1936.

Other Research Opportunities

Yet, the Death Master File has the potential to be used in others ways. One way the site recommends is an effort to research and prevent identity theft.

According to the site:

“By methodically running financial, credit, payment and other applications against the Death Master File, the financial community, insurance companies, security firms and state and local governments are better able to identify and prevent identity fraud.”

To aide in fraud prevent, NTIS now offers this information online. “A user may now access an online search application or maintain a raw data version of the file.”

Another way to use the Death Master File is in genealogical research. Again, as long as that ancestor died after 1936.

The Death Master File would make a great genealogical tool because the site offers:

“…the following information on each decedent, if the data are available to the SSA: social security number, name, date of birth, date of death, state or country of residence (2/88 and prior), ZIP code of last residence, and ZIP code of lump sum payment.”

This information is provided for more than 89 million deceased Americans.

These are only a couple of ways that the death Master File can be used in research. It is a valuable; yet, little-know research tool. For more information about the Death Master file, visit the NTIS website.

Originally published on

  • J.Griffin

    A simple word:

    Two old men,
    both seriously ill,
    occupied the same room
    in a Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

    One of the men,
    an elderly Navajo Marine Sergeant,
    needed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

    His bed was next to the room’s
    only window.

    The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

    The men talked for hours on end.

    They spoke of their wives and families,
    their homes,their posts and careers
    in their branches of service,
    life afterwards and since,
    God,old friends and Honour…
    even though the other man was a retired U.S. Naval Officer from back East,
    they really bonded as brothers in spite of their diversities…
    in no small part because of the adversities
    that they now shared,obviously.

    Every afternoon,
    when the man in the bed by the window could sit up,
    he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

    The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

    The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

    Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats.

    Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

    As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail,
    the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

    Sarge,you sure do have a way with words!
    the Navy man would say.

    Sarge would just smile and reply,
    “That’s my gift…
    I’ve always tried to put it to good use!”

    One warm afternoon in the first week of July,
    the man by the window
    described a parade passing by.

    Although the other man could not hear the band –
    he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with vivid,descriptive words.

    Days, weeks and then months passed.

    One morning,
    the day nurse arrived to bring water
    for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window,
    who had died peacefully in his sleep.

    She was saddened as she called the hospital orderlies to
    take his tired,old body tenderly away.

    As soon as it seemed appropriate,
    the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.

    The nurse was happy to make the switch,
    and after making sure
    he was comfortable,
    she left him alone.

    he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look again at the real world outside.

    He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

    It only faced a blank wall…

    The Captain asked the nurse what could have possibly compelled and inspired his friend,the old Navajo soldier,
    to have so vividly imagined and then described
    such wonderful things outside this window that to him just faced nowhere and only showed nothing-
    those hours had been his lifeline….

    The nurse responded that the elderly Navajo veteran had been blind for some time and could not even have seen
    the wall.

    Then she smiled and simply said,
    “He must have just wanted to encourage you.”


    There is tremendous happiness in making others happy,
    despite our own situations.

    Shared grief is half the sorrow,
    but happiness when shared,
    is doubled.

    If you want to feel rich,
    just count all the things
    you have that money can’t buy.

    “Today is a gift…
    that is why it is called
    ‘The Present’ ! ”

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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