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Using the Social Security Death Index. How to Use the SSDI The Death Index is an absolutely sprawling data source, encompassing no fewer than 89 million records which are updated on a weekly basis. The last place the person was known to be living. Whether the person received a lump sum payment through the SSA. Once you have the death certificate, you may also be able to find funeral records, mortuary records, or church records of personal or financial interest. Track down any land records which may be in your family.
Working with these state offices, the National Center for Health Statistics NCHS established the NDI as a resource to aid epidemiologists and other health and medical investigators with their mortality ascertainment activities. You should receive a letter or e-mail approving your repeat request within 2 weeks. You can then submit your new files for your next NDI search in the same manner as the first submission.
How are death records matched with user records?
Social Security Death Index Search Engine (Free)
To qualify as a possible record match, both records must satisfy at least one of seven conditions or matching criteria, and the specified data items must agree on both records. How much will the service cost? Fees for the NDI Plus service are slightly higher. Are discounts provided for large volumes? If you are considering submitting more than , records for an NDI search, you may be eligible for our fee discounts for large record volumes. In some cases, it is reported to stop Social Security Benefits to the deceased.
The primary sources of information utilized for the SSA DMF are relatives of deceased individuals, funeral directors, financial institutions, postal services, as well as other government agencies [ 9 ]. Thus the reasons for exclusion from the SSDI include not having a social security number and not having the death reported to the SSA [ 5 , 10 ]. The SSA was originally founded by an act of Congress in as a retirement program. In the SSA was required to issue social security numbers SSNs to all legally admitted aliens at entry; SSNs are assigned to all persons authorized to work in the US who request them, including newborns.
SSNs are required for tax purposes, to get medical coverage or apply for government services. As a result, most Americans and legal aliens have SSNs [ 11 , 12 ]. Our study employed social security number as the primary search field and name as secondary. We found an overall sensitivity of We believe one source of this discrepancy to be related to the disproportionate frequency of name changes in women.
Having information on social security number has been shown to greatly improve sensitivity, as well as specificity, for sources of mortality [ 7 , 9 , 13 , 14 ], possibly by reducing the impact of inexact matches of name e. Investigators using this information have had similar findings among some demographic groups [ 6 , 14 ]. While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act HIPAA places certain restrictions on personal information available to researchers, identifiers such as social security number are frequently accessible for studies [ 17 ].
A possible explanation for the differential misclassification is related to the eligibility criteria defined by the SSA for receiving death benefits.
Foreign nationals and naturalized citizens may have less opportunity to achieve the necessary 40 quarters 10 years of work in the US to qualify for benefits and thus reduced incentive to report deaths to the SSA. The U. Census Bureau recently determined that Immigrant proportions were highest in major urban areas, with Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco accountable for the majority of such individuals [ 18 ]. Age at death was another determining factor on identification by the SSDI in our study.
Older decedents were significantly more likely to be identified as dead, similar to previous reports [ 19 , 20 ]. In general, as with immigrants who have not had sufficient opportunity to work the necessary 10 years, younger aged decedents are less likely to have achieved qualification for benefits. In this study, the first age quartile ranged from 41—70; it is unlikely to have greatly affected ability to qualify for benefits.
We also found a significant reduction in sensitivity for determining mortality status of African American decedents. Previous studies have reported difficulties in ascertainment of mortality status in African Americans using databases of such information [ 7 , 8 , 21 ].
However, these results should be looked at with caution because of the small sample size of African Americans on which they are based. Our study suggests that the use of the SSDI as the sole source for verification of mortality status might have detrimental effects in research findings if misclassification of mortality status is not accounted for in the analysis. As shown on this paper, this is especially the case, if the exposures of interest are, or related to age, gender, country of birth or race.
- Use The SSDI Search For Family History Research.
- The Social Security Death Index Is Still Available!.
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Correction methods for bias due to misclassification are available in the literature [ 22 — 25 ]. The matrix method described by Greenland et al. Magder et al. They also described an EM algorithm that produces unbiased estimates of the odds ratios and their variances. This study is limited in its generalizability; the patient population is entirely composed of patients seen for potential heart problems in the Nuclear Cardiology department who agreed to be part of an observational follow-up study.
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Additionally, while the number of decedents studied is similar to that of similar studies, it is still too low for the analysis of certain subgroups. However, despite the use of the convenience sample for this study, we have no reason to suspect that estimates of overall sensitivity or sensitivity as a function of study variables would be grossly different than population values. Regardless, we encourage application of sensitivity analysis techniques to evaluate different levels of uncertainty with respect to bias.
Though we have demonstrated the sensitivity of the SSDI using confirmed decedents, we have not attained similar information for other databases of mortality status, such as the NDI. It should be noted that our sole source of demographic information is the hospital admission records. Findings could reflect variance in accuracy as a function of our study variables. However, such information is frequently all that is available to investigators. Internet sources provide accurate information for determination of mortality status and may be accessed using the web quickly and inexpensively.
The SSA Master Death File from which Internet sources are generated is updated monthly, thus making it particularly useful for researchers conducting prospective studies with mortality as an endpoint. While gender and marital status have no effect on the sensitivity of SSA Master Death File in our sample, other demographic factors do.
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