SSA Brings Out Its Dead
The Social Security Administration plans to release an additional 694,959 historical death records.
Donna Horowitz
May 21, 2019

The Social Security Administration plans to release an additional 694,959 historical death records contained in the Death Master File.
The release of the records to subscribers of the database, including members of the life settlement market who track deaths of insureds on policies, is set for April 27, according to the National Technical Information Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The new records will be in addition to the normal weekly death-record update, a Thursday, April 25, announcement from John Hounsell, program manager with the Office of Program Management with the NTIS in Alexandria, Va., said. "SSA continues to be actively engaged in an initiative to improve our death data. As a part of this initiative, in fiscal year 2019, SSA will add nearly 3 million death records to the full and publicly available Death Master File (DMF) over the course of several months," the announcement stated. "These records are deaths currently maintained in our records that we determined should be included in the DMF."

The Social Security Administration also said the effort to update the Death Master File may result in an increase in the volume of death records received by subscribers.
It said these historical records might include more zeroes in the date of death field, which generally occurs on older records because the agency previously didn't require a valid date of death. It said the zeroes could indicate that information was missing in the death report or, in the case of paper records, was illegible when the information was put in the database.

"Sharing these deaths will increase the accuracy, integrity, and completeness of our records as well as the DFM," the announcement also said.
Servicers in the life settlement market use the Death Master File as one of its resources to track deaths of insureds on policies so they may know when to seek death benefits from insurance companies. Life expectancy providers also use the information to measure the accuracy of their forecasts on deaths.
The Death Master File contains 91 million names of deceased people that have been collected since 1938.

Originally posted 4/25/19