Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Some SS-5 Application Requests have Parents' Names blacked out

Debra Braverman posted on the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) mailing list, in SS-5 parents' names blacked out, that:

"I have recently gotten 2 SS-5 forms with the parents' names blacked out. The accompanying letter explained that this was due to privacy issues since the parents could still be alive. These were for SS-5's for people born in the 1940's. There was an appeal process which involved sending proof of the parents' deaths so that SSA could determine whether they were indeed dead and that privacy would not be an issue..."

Several other persons commented on this, but no one has seen or found the actual rules or restrictions that result in the parents' names being blacked out. Connie Sheets offered that she received one recently for someone born in 1930. Israel Pickholtz wondered if they had a rule about parents being at least 110 years old.

The Social Security form SSA-711 form for requesting the SS-5 of a deceased person does not mention anything about privacy concerns, other than of the requestor.

Has anybody else experienced this? Obviously, it defeats one purpose of ordering an SS-5. The prudent thing to do would be to send a death certificate for the parents if they are known. But, determining the names of the parents is often the reason that the requestor wants the SS-5.

Many of us use the letter on the Rootsweb site here in order to order the SS-5 when we discover the entry in the Social Security Death Index. Some sort of warning should be put on this page about this issue.


Xfaith said...

I have ordered a few about 5 years ago, and even had the wrong SSN for one, they sent me back a copy of both individuals (wife and husband). I have never seen them blacked out. I agree that does defeat the purpose of the trying to get them.

Cyndi Beane Henry said...


I, too, have ordered several SS%'s during my course of research and NEVER received one with a blacked out area for the parents.

If you are ordering using the letter from Ancestry.com, please be aware, that there are actually TWO kinds of SS5's you can order.
One costs $27 per copy. The OTHER is a NUMIDENT copy and costs a mere $16.

I do know someone who made the mistake of ordering the NUMIDENT copy, which is clearly defined on the ancestry.com webpage as being an abbreviated copy. And when the person I knew ordered this by mistake, the parents names of the individual were blackened out.

If you plan to order a copy make certain that you order the FULL VERSION, and NOT the NUMIDENT!
Perhaps you can let others know about this. I had overlooked the APG messages, thinking surely someone would realize this problem.

Taken from Ancestry.com:
"A standard letter to the Social Security Administration is available with the search results on the Ancestry.com Social Security Death Index. This letter may be printed and mailed to the Social Security Administration to request a copy of your ancestor's SS-5 form. The Social Security Administration now charges $27.00 for each individual copy (an abbreviated NUMIDENT printout is available for $16.00). "

Anonymous said...

Hi Gene! As a new researcher, your post was very informative for me. When I saw SSNs start popping up on Ancestry.com, I wondered what they would be helpful for. Thank you for clearing that up for me! I tried to click the link to rootsweb and it's broken... fyi... there's an extra http in there.

Tonia Kendrick said...

There is also an online form available at the SSA website, if you don't want to send a letter snail mail. You simply fill in the form and pay with a credit card. As Texicanwife says, be sure to choose the "Photocopy of Original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5)," not the computer extract. Here's the url to the form:


The History Man said...

The 1940 census will not be released until 2012 because of this issue. We have to wait 72 years for a census and I am betting that this falls under the same category.

The History Man