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SSA Death Master File

Effective November 1, 2011, the Death Master File provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) will no longer contain protected state death records.

 Why did the SSA make this change?

The SSA receives death reports from various sources, including family members, funeral homes, hospitals and financial institutions.  As of November 1, 2011, the SSA will no longer include certain protected state death records in the Death Master File (DMF) it distributes through the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) for the following reason:

  • Section 205(r) of the Social Security Act prohibits the SSA from disclosing state death records the SSA receives through its contracts with the states, except in limited circumstances.

The content of the DMF, provided by the SSA, will be altered as follows:

  • The historical Public DMF contains 89 million records. SSA will remove approximately 4.2 million records from this repository.
  • In the previous year, 2010, the SSA shared roughly 2.8 million death records through the DMF. This number will be reduced by roughly 1 million records each year going forward.

  Note: Per both the SSA and NTIS, users of the DMF should always investigate and verify the death listed in the file before taking any adverse action against any individual.