The NICAR Database Library has just updated the Social Security Administration's Death Master File (DMF), which is now current as of Nov. 30, 2013. We purchased the last full copy of the data available before the Social Security Administration changed the rule around access, limiting the most recent three years of data (and most likely placing it out of the reach of journalists).
Because these new restrictions make the data nearly impossible to get going forward, we have dramatically slashed our price and are charging only $50, so that cost won't be a barrier for IRE members who need it. The data didn't come cheap -- NICAR paid more than $1800 for it. If you'd like to help us recover our costs, a donation of any size would be greatly appreciated. See below to contribute.
The Death Master File (DMF) is the most complete listing of all deaths in the United States since 1937 -- although it's not entirely complete and still has errors. Journalists across the United States have done stories about election system weaknesses by matching this database with the voter registration data in their areas. Some have identified actual cases of people who are recorded as casting a ballot after their death.
The DMF does not include any details about the death of a person, but instead lists the full name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and date of death. For deaths prior to 2/28/2010, some records list state, zip codes of last known residence and location where lump-sum payment made to widow(er) was sent.
For more information or to download a copy, members can log into the IRE and NICAR website and purchase the full file at https://www.ire.org/nicar/database-library/databases/social-security-administration-death-master-file/. Anyone interested in getting the file can email email@example.com or call (573) 884-7711.
The database contains just over 90 million records, and comes in ten .CSV files (each with approximately 10 million records, ~ 1 GB). The files are comma-delimited and double quoted. If you need helping getting this data into a format you can work with, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 884-7711.
If you're a current member, click below to make a secure credit card donation through our site. Please put "DMF" in the message line.
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If you're not a current member or if you prefer to donate via PayPal, click below.
Liz Lucas, Director
NICAR is a joint program of IRE and the Missouri School of Journalism. Since 1989, NICAR has maintained a library of databases containing government data on a wide array of subjects and also trained thousands of journalists in the practical skills of getting and analyzing electronic information.