Social Security Administration Death Master File

Source National Technical Information Service
File Size 10 GB
Dates Covered 1937 – November 2013
Cost Snapshot

  • Members $50
Categories: ,


The Social Security Death Master File (DMF), obtained from the National Technical Information Service, is the most complete listing of all deaths in the United States since 1937 — although it’s not entirely complete and still has errors.To be listed, the person must have a Social Security number. It does *not* include any details about the death of a person, but the name, Social Security number, date of birth, date of death (in some cases, only month and year), the state from 1937-February 1988, and ZIP codes of last known residence and location where lump-sum payment made to widow(er) are sent.Important information: The Social Security Administration no longer releases state or zipcode information for anyone, so there is no geographical information for those who died after 2/28/10.  The SSA also goes out of its way to emphasize that it does not guarantee the accuracy of the Death Master File. For good reason — journalists have identified numerous people who, according to the database, are dead but are in fact alive and well. Often, it’s a matter of the SSA mistakenly identifying someone is dead but in fact the person’s spouse died. So it’s important to verify that someone is in fact deceased before stating so in an article.

Record layouts and samples of this database

Data sample (dmf.xls) 26.4 KB
Main documentation (Readme_1.txt) 14.1 KB
Record layout (RecordLayout_1.txt) 1.1 KB

Related Stories

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    The Atlanta Constitution looks at the existing and the potential scope of voting errors and fraud in Georgia. The investigation finds that “the actual number of ballots cast by the dead is fairly small – 5,412 in the past 20 years,” but “the ranks of potential dead voters have grown dramatically in recent years.” The story analyses the most common errors in voting records and the loopholes in some election laws. The report also describes the voter identification requirements.
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