SSDI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

SSDI Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Record Preservation and Access Committee

1. I’m having trouble signing the petition; how can I resolve this issue?

IMPORTANT: Step-by-step instructions on how to register with and sign the petition are available at

The process involves three steps: 1) registering at, 2) checking your email and clicking the verification link, and – most importantly – 3) signing the petition.

How can you tell if you’ve successfully signed the petition? You will see a confirmation displaying your signature number and the message “You’ve already signed this petition” will appear at the bottom of the screen.  And if you scroll down, you should see a square note with your first name and last initial plus your signature number.

Those reporting the most problems with the process are using Google Chrome as a web browser. If you are having trouble signing the petition after going through all the hoops, close your browser window, open a new browser window and click the link to sign the petition.

2. What is the Record Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) doing to save the Social Security Death Index a.k.a. Social Security Death Master File from being removed from public view?

RPAC has developed a multi-pronged strategy to address this issue. This strategy includes all of the measures available to us in a democracy: making our voices heard through petitions, personal and organizational letters, visits to legislators, witnesses and statements before legislative and administrative bodies, and every other legitimate means.

3. Why is RPAC initiating a petition with the “We the People” site at the White House?

At this time, a key piece of the strategy is to get publicity for our message.  The “We the People” website is a commitment by the Obama Administration to highlight issues that a significant number of Americans feel are important. Those issues are then sent on to decision-makers in Washington who can best implement solutions and improvements.

RPAC is using this vehicle to deliver a strong message to the IRS that they have the power to solve this problem TODAY; they don’t need legislation and they don’t need to remove public access to the SSDI.

4. Why wasn’t the key message of the petition “Save the SSDI” instead of “Stop Identity Theft Now”?

The message is that IRS could stop this overnight if they chose to do so by using rather than hiding the SSDI as a tool. This message can best be delivered with a positive approach rather than an emotional “Save the SSDI” petition. Our message is to focus on the real problem they are trying to solve and not to redact the SSDI with an emotional knee-jerk piece of legislation.

5. Why not deliver both of the above messages in the petition?

There is a limit on the number of characters/words for the body of the petition. The RPAC chose to focus on drawing the attention to stopping identity theft so that legislators and the government employees who need to solve the problem will view genealogists as wanting to be part of the solution, not simply focused on something they are going to lose.

6. Why now? Why a petition instead of other means of communication?

Before this is over, we will have used all available means at our disposal related to the SSDI issues. In our Model State Liaison Briefing, we list a number of community responses, each with a specific impact. The coordinated timing of these options over the coming months will be the best way to make our voices heard on this issue. Please stay connected to this issue through the RPAC blog and other media outlets in the genealogical community. We need your continued interest and support.

7. Will we get the required amount of signatures in time for the 8 March 2012 deadline?

We strongly believe that we will get the signatures in time. We believe that we will get more than the needed 25,000 signatures due to the size of the genealogical community and the social networks available for this purpose.

In truth, the sooner we reach the minimum threshold and the more signatures above the 25,000 minimum, the louder and stronger the message, so our goal is to exceed that number by a significant amount.

8. Will the RPAC be contacting other stakeholders (legal, banking and the insurance industry)?

Yes, this is a community effort and they will be contacted. However, contact doesn’t necessarily mean that they will become allies. In a political issue like this one, all of the parties will position themselves to their best advantage. For many of these industries, the genealogical community is viewed as a non-significant and often irrational partner and government agencies may grant them a conditional use option that is not public. They don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that option for their industry.

This is why the RPAC is taking the approach to both communicate our message and to change the misperception that we want open records at any cost. We’re here to offer meaningful and tangible solutions to the real issues and strike a balance between open records and solving the issues of identity theft in a post 9/11 world.

However, we are also reaching out to the organizations that happen to be our best allies such as librarians, attorneys, information professionals, human resource specialists and others.

9. Why did it take so long to get this petition drive put together?

The real issue is coordinating the strategy, timing, messaging and all the other components of mounting a national campaign. This effort is accomplished by a team of volunteers, many of whom have full-time jobs and do this in addition to their daily commitments. If you would like to volunteer to assist in this effort, please spread the messages to your network of friends and contacts (see below).

10. How can I encourage others to sign the petition? What are some effective ways that I can help get the word out?

Social media has been the most effective vehicle for many similar petitions. You can help by:

·       Posting the link as part of a Status Update on Facebook if you have a Facebook account.  Also, don’t forget to post to any Facebook pages or groups to which you are subscribed, including genealogical societies!

·       If you use Twitter, include the link and briefly explain why signing the petition is important.  The hashtag for this campaign is #openssdi.

·       Consider putting the link in your email signature to let others know about the petition.

For further information, contact RPAC at

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