If you have ancestors that have passed away after 1962, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) can be a helpful genealogy tool. You simply put in your ancestors name and it will return all individuals with that name, along with their dates of birth and death (for some deaths it is only month and year), their last residence and last benefit (if applicable), their social security number and where it was issued.
Once you have narrowed your results down to the right individual, you can send a letter or do an online request to get a copy of the individual's application for a social security card from the Social Security Administration. This form generally will give you information on the person's full name at birth (helpful if you don't know the maiden name of an ancestor), date and place of birth, mailing address at the time of application, full name of both parents (including mother's maiden name), and current employers name and address.
Things to remember about using the SSDI for genealogy:
1) While most deaths in the database are after 1962, you may be able to find some earlier deaths.
2) Not all individuals who died are in the database.
3) The name the individual used may not be the name you find them under in the database. It may have been a middle name or nickname.
Things to remember when requesting social security records for genealogy:
1) There is a fee that must be paid. As of January 2010, the fee is $27.00 if you know the individual's social security number and $29.00 if you do not.
2) Computer extracts are available for a lower fee, but may not contain all the information you seek.
3) Be patient. Under the Freedom of Information Act, they have twenty (20) business days to respond to your request. When you add in weekends, any holidays and mailing, it could be one to two months before you receive the information you requested.
4) The individual must be deceased. If the person is living, you will not be able to request a copy of their application.
Places to search the SSDI for free
Requesting social security records