Our Death Data

We collect death information to administer our programs.  We receive death reports from many sources, including family members, funeral homes, financial institutions, postal authorities, States and other Federal agencies.   It is important to note our records are not a comprehensive record of all deaths in the country.

We compile this death information, known as the Death Master File (DMF). The DMF is an extract of death information on the NUMIDENT, the electronic database that contains our records of Social Security Numbers (SSN) assigned to individuals since 1936, and includes, if available, the deceased individual’s SSN, first name, middle name, surname, date of birth, and date of death.  We prepare two versions of the DMF:

  • The full file contains all death records extracted from our NUMIDENT database, including death data received from the States and is shared only with certain Federal and State agencies pursuant to section 205(r) of the Social Security Act.
  • The public file contains death records extracted from our NUMIDENT database, but does not include death data received from the States. We provide this version to the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service, a clearinghouse for government information, which sells it to the public (other agencies and private organizations such as banks and credit companies).

Providing Death Data (Federal benefit-paying agencies & States)

If you are a Federal agency interested in entering into a data exchange agreement with SSA to receive the full file of death information, complete the data exchange request form (SSA-157) and email it to ORDP.Data.Exchange@ssa.gov

If you are a State Agency interested in entering into a data exchange agreement with SSA to receive the full file of death information, submit your request via the provisions listed on our internet site on the page Electronic Data Exchanges with the States.

For each request to receive the full file, you must tell us:

  • why you are requesting the full file,
  • what legal authority under section 205(r) of the Social Security Act supports your request, 
  • the anticipated frequency of your request,
  • what security measures and safeguards you have in place to protect the data you receive from us, and 
  • if your agency currently has, or previously had, a data exchange agreement with SSA to receive the full file.

Criteria Used to Approve Requests and Estimate Reimbursement Costs

We will review your request to determine whether we have the applicable authority to provide the full file to your Federal agency.  Finally, reimbursement for developing and maintaining the exchange is generally required.

Additional guidance for requesting the full file:

  • You must agree to maintain the information under certain security safeguards. The safeguards must provide a level and scope of security that is not less than the level and scope of security established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which sets guidelines for security plans for automated information systems in Federal agencies in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III—Security of Federal Automated Information Systems.
  • You will be required to sign an agreement covering payment for services that we perform.  Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act requires that the recipient agency provide SSA reimbursement for the reasonable cost of providing the information.  Costs are calculated based on the implementation and maintenance of the data exchange, how your agency will receive the file, and the frequency with which you will receive the information. 

The requestor and an appropriate SSA representative will sign Form SSA-1235 “Agreement Covering Reimbursable Services” to establish the financial arrangement between the parties. We will recoup all costs (computer program development costs and ongoing processing costs) associated with your service.  The costs are subject to change to reflect actual costs in subsequent years.

A Data Exchange Liaison will respond to your request as soon as possible.

NOTE

The timeframe to establish an exchange with SSA can vary significantly depending upon the nature of your request and SSA priorities. Some exchanges are routine while others may require additional time for approval and implementation. During the review and implementation stages, we will keep you apprised of the status of your request.