14 February 2012

Commissioner Astrue's SSDI Comments

Listen to what your Social Security Commissioner said at recent testimony regarding the Social Security Death Master File

The response of genealogists has been termed an "over-reaction." Astrue compares the SSDI to census data and suggests that the death file could be released in 10 or 75 years. Don't take my word for it. Hear him say it himself. Click on the image above and listen. We are not trying tell you what you should think, but do want you aware of what was said. Access to information, isn't that what it's all about? If the video is "unavailable" please email me directly at mjnrootdig@gmail.com.

The link above contains a snippet of Commissioner Michael J. Astrue's testimony regarding the Social Security Master Death File at the "Hearing on Social Security Death Records."

My take on security concerns is here.

Consider signing the petition to require the IRS to take alternative fraud prevention measures now. It is time to show Commissioner Astrue what "over-reaction" is. Removing the SSDI from public access isn't going to stop identity theft.

There is more information about the petition here.

The entire testimony video can be viewed here.

Our politicians need to know:
  • genealogists vote.
  • we are not just a few "over-reactors"
  • we are not just "little ol' ladies in tennis shoes" who can be pushed aside. Those words are mine, not the Commissioners. But often genealogists are viewed in this fashion. 
Spread the word.
Make your voice heard.
Time is crucial. 

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please share the URL with anyone who may have an interest in this topic.


Kris Stewart said...

An over-reaction? I don't think we are over-reacting at all. I do NOT feel I can get all the information I need from other records nearly as quickly and easily as I get it from the SSDI, and this means often my clients would be paying me MORE $ to get the same work done.

The fact the IRS let someone claim someone else's deceased child as a dependent is a clear problem, but I don't think its our access to the SSDI that is the issue.

The fact that the SSDI listed people that were not deceased is also a problem, but again, not our access to the SSDI that is the issue.

The "hearing" was very one-sided. Please, everyone, sign the petition!

Michael John Neill said...

As has been pointed out elsewhere, restricting access to the Social Security Master Death Index will really only make a minor dent in identify theft cases.

The stolen identities of the dead do make headlines and are emotional. But their sheer numbers are extremely small--but it is the headlines and emotions that grab attention. Many institutions use the SSDI every day to deny credit based upon fraudulent claims. That denial doesn't make headlines and doesn't grab at the heartstrings as other statements do.

Anonymous said...

Another example of big brother expanding their grip on the little guy...
I hope that the American voter who is capable of getting out to their polling places will do so this year. Put aside all other distractions for an hour and do the one thing that WILL make a difference....VOTE.....Vote in November.....These knot-heads have got to go!!!!
Please remember all the crap that has been going on in Washington and gets out and vote in November....
Remember- Things won't change unless we exercise our right to vote.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the video is no longer available. kinguetr

Joan said...

I would like to share with you a family mystery that would not have been solved without the SSDI.

In 1903, my fiance's grandfather, who was then just a toddler, was separated from his two older sisters after the death of their parents. Apparently, these children had lots of family around but the girls were considered a liability and were sent to an orphanage. The boy was raised by an aunt and he never again had any contact with his sisters.

Throughout his life Grandpa talked about trying to find his sisters even saying that when he had the money he would hire a private detective. Well, that never happened and Grandpa died in 1988 without ever knowing what happened to his two sisters.

In 2010, I received an email from the grandson of one of the two sisters. He found my family tree on line and contacted me. We exchanged emails and to my delight he knew the the married name of the other sister. His grandmother had been adopted, grown up to marry, had a family, and moved out-of-state. The two sisters were able to keep in touch over the years, and had often longed to know the whereabouts of their baby brother. The two sisters passed away without knowing whatever became of him. After her death in 1977, her son took up the search without much success, and then the grandson went on the Internet.

I took the newly found surname information and typed it into the SSDI search engine and bingo there they were -- both the sister and her husband. It was a bittersweet discovery; however, because this sister lived in a community about 25 miles from where Grandpa's daughters had settled. Grandpa's son lived even closer.

Taking the information from the SSDI, one of Grandpa's daughters, went to the local library of town where her aunt had lived and talked to the librarian. The librarian found the obituary of the long lost aunt who died in 2006.

The obituary contained all of the usual information including church affiliation. At the church not only did the clerk remember the couple, but she also found a picture of them together. This couple had no children so there is no one left to search for, but Grandpa's children do keep in touch with the son of the out-of-state sister.

I have no doubt that Grandpa and his two sisters had a wonderful family reunion in Heaven, and thanks to the SSDI the living were able to solve a family mystery.

Denise Hibsch Richmond said...

Does this link about the hearing provide any other background? It's from a google search with astrue's name then news filter. www.lexology.com/

Michael John Neill said...

Video is working again.

Michael John Neill said...

The entire testimony video can be viewed here:


Leslie said...

The link you provide doesn't work - "Access Denied" is the message...

Michael John Neill said...

Let me know which link isn't working. My test just located them all, but I might have overlooked something.

AC said...

I must say that I doubt that restricting access to the SSDI will make even a dent in the ID theft problem. In fact, I think it's more likely that the ID theft problem will become worse.

I think the solution to this is to require businesses to use this valuable free resource, rather than operating blindly as many do now.