Throughout the fall, members of the Records Preservation and Access Committee have been monitoring new threats to our access to the Social Security Death Index (also known as the Death Master File) and seeking to share the concerns of the genealogical community with key decision-makers and staff.
Many of us also began to see this fall redactions of parental names (or outright rejections) of requested copies of the Social Security Administration Form SS-5 prepared when a person first applies for a Social Security number. The regulations implementing a new, more-restricted policy are found at: http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203350005
(Scroll down to Section I for the provisions on redaction of parental information.)
The Scripps Howard Article found the following URL has been widely picked up by newspapers across the country: http://www.dailyrepublic.com/apnews/social-security-death-list-enables-dead-childrens-id-theft/
Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) has been outraged by these and other press reports of abuses of the Master Death File and has introduced legislation (H.R. 3475) to limit access to the DMF and SSN’s in general. His press release announcing this initiative is found at: http://www.samjohnson.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=269671 .
The issue has been active in both houses of the Congress and has prompted a number of legislative proposals of which S.B. 1534, H.R 3482, & HR 3215 are additional examples.
HR 3215 :
Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and others have joined in urging family history web sites to take down the DMF or limit the information displayed. Senator Brown’s “Dear Colleague” letter organizing that effort is attached.
The genealogical blogs have been burning up over these developments for several weeks. One of the most detailed accounts is found on the blog of internationally recognized genealogist, Megan Smolenyak at : http://megansmolenyak.posterous.com/are-we-going-to-lose-the-social-security-deat
We expect to have some additional developments to report shortly after the 9th of January 2012. Please stay tuned.