Understanding the SSDI
This is the first in a series of posts about one of the major starting points for genealogical research, the Social Security Death Index. Starting today, the SSDI has been added to Mocavo’s search engine for everyone.
The Social Security Death Master File (DMF, also popularly called the Social Security Death Index, or SSDI) is used by the Social Security Administration for coordinating benefits. Understanding the history of the DMF and what it is (and isn’t) can help you get the best use of the database.
The Social Security Act was signed in 1935, and the Social Security Board started building the infrastructure for distributing benefits. Registration began in 1936 and 30 million individuals were registered and cards distributed by 1937. These cards were distributed through employers, who had employees fill out the information, then returned the cards to the government.
Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes were collected beginning in 1937. Lump-sum payments were made for the first five years. After deposits had accumulated during that time, monthly distributions started in 1942.