Social Security Death Index Search and Why You Might Have No SSN Search Results

Social Security Death Index Search for Dead Person

I’m doing some research on my family tree and I’m trying to get more information on my great-grandfather, who died in 1942. Is there any way to do a Social Security Number lookup for him?

Dead PersonThe Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Death Master File – also known as a Social Security Death Index – that allows for a social security number lookup for people who have been deceased for more than 3 years.

However, running this kind of SSN lookup directly through the SSA can be challenging. The easier way is to go through a genealogical site like or – they can typically provide you basic information at little or no cost.

That said, for people who have died between 1990-2011, running a people address search on one of the people finder websites – even using an old or partial address – will often yield much more information than the genealogy sites, including information on other relatives you may not know about.  You can run a free people search at the bottom of the page to see what’s available.

No results on an SSN Search

Why are there no SSN search results for my son’s social security number?

There could be any number of reasons why a social security number search comes up empty, but here are a few:

The subject is under 18

Most USA people search websites do not index or publish information for people under 18 (and some take it to up 21). However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use a people finder site like USA Trace to find out some information, even if the person of interest is under 18.

Try searching for the details of the person the child is living with, even if all you have is a name and past residence. The report you receive will give you the person’s most recent address, and also typically a phone number, so you can reach out right away.  Even though a social security number search will often yield the best results, don’t discount the power of a people address search.

Your subject is no longer in the US

SSNs are issued to just about everyone born in the US but – if they’re not living the US – they’d have no real reason to use it. If your subject has never opened a bank account in the US, used any form of credit, or purchased any item with a contract, there’s not likely to be any public records on them. Also remember that most of the digital records  that people finder websites use are only really reliable back to 1990, so even if your subject did any of those things, if it was prior to 1990, the information may not be instantly available in a standard USA people search.

The wrong SSN is on record

databasedMany digital records are transcribed by hand and may be entered incorrectly into a system either by the business/agency that received it or by the company that databased the information. People also frequently misremember their SSN and may even use an incorrect one for years without realizing it.

Especially in the case of a younger subject with limited pubic record information, one small error can result in a complete dead end. Fortunately, most USA people search companies have the same background reports information available even if you run an address search (or even a search based on a last known city and state).

Try a free people search below to see what kind of information is available:

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Related Posts
1. Can I perform a social security number lookup on someone who has died?
2. How to Run an SSN Trace
3. How do I find a lost relative or find a lost friend?