The Irish / British Genealogy Group Message Board › SSDI - Social Security Death Index
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SSDI - Congressional Hearing
Sent on behalf of TIARA (The Irish Ancestral Research Association)
We've been asked to share the following information with our members. It is of great importance to all genealogists:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dee Dee King, Certified Genealogist
Date: Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Subject: Re: SS Death Index Emergency
No witnesses have been scheduled to represent the genealogical community. We were excluded. Not only do we need genealogists, we MUST have voices from other professions who rely upon SSDI in order to demonstrate the commercial and economic impact.
This is exactly the precursor to revamping the Patriot Act with a states' model vital records section that will limit birth and death records for 100 years and marriage and death for 70. If they win on SSDI, the momentum for the Patriot Act will probably be unstoppable.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Sandy Slifka"
To: "Nora Galvin"
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 2:50:20 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Subject: SS Death Index Emergency
Recently there have been complaints from people across the country who have had their names erroneously placed in the Social Security Master Death Index (they are not dead) and they are saying that their privacy has been invaded and that the index should be made private. Also, there have apparently been some Social Security numbers stolen from the SSDI and fraudulently used on tax returns and other documents.
Because of these types of abuses and errors, there will be a Congressional hearing on the topic on Thursday. The Social Security Administration is overseen by the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, which is part of the Committee on Ways and Means. It appears that the Subcommittee chairman is leaning toward recommending that the index be closed. You may have noticed that Social Security numbers are no longer listed in the SSDI on Ancestry.com, and some genealogy Web pages have removed the index completely because they fear being sued.
Of course, we know that the purpose of the SSDI is precisely to make these numbers public so that they cannot be used fraudulently. It seems that banks and the IRS do not follow the recommended practice of comparing a SSN to this list before accepting it as valid. Also, the SSA should have a system for ensuring the listings in their database are accurate. It does not seem to me that these problems are insurmountable if the SSDI would be used in the way it was intended.
Closing this database to the public would, in my opinion, place genealogists at the top of a very slippery slope in which government agencies would, out of fear or ignorance, push for closing ever more records. This would put us out of business. It would also prevent the millions of Americans who pursue genealogy for pleasure or medical reasons from learning about their family history. At the very least we would be losing the only national registry of deaths that help us to resolve probate issues, find relatives, etc.
You can read more about this at Dick Eastman's blog Dick Eastman Blog and at the Web site he links to, The Legal Genealogist
The deadline is February 16. Please note that it is possible to submit your comments to the committee online. It is being recommended by many people that we also contact the members of the subcommittee individually. There is a list of these individuals available through the Legal Genealogist blog. Note that you must send an actual letter to them because they only accept email from constituents. It is also recommended that you contact your own congressman and the others from Connecticut, and make your opinion known to them.
I know that Richard Blumenthal is heading up a similar hearing in the Senate, though it is not scheduled. I sent him an email through his Web site over a week ago but have not yet heard back from him. I will need to make some other form of contact with him, and I'll let you know about that.
So, please go to the Subcommittee Web site and write your thoughts. Keep it concise and to the point, talking only about the SSDI, not other kinds of records. A couple of sentences should do. Melinde Byrne says, " Meanwhile, lots of email with short, well-reasoned statements of support for the SSDI and/or condemnation for the shabby methods of keeping it accurate (no accuracy check on minimum-wage keyboarders all up and down the chain of custody of our SSNs, assigning SSNs to infants at birth when the card itself says not to sign it until you are 18 or take your first job) are very, very important. Such things will become part of the printed record, as they should."
By the way, there will be some people invited by the committee to speak at the hearing, but that list has not yet been released. I hope someone from APG, Ancestry.com or FamiilySearch International will be there. The hearing will be broadcast live on streaming video available from the committee website at Ways & Means
Finally, if you are on twitter, genealogist Joe Buggy has sent the following email:
"I've started a Twitter hashtag #openSSDI in relation to the Ways and Means hearing.
It might be worth using it to try and get it trending if you post anything to Twitter about SSDI.
@SamPressStop is where you can direct tweet Sam Johnson, the subcommittee chairman. "
Thanks for fighting for your right to earn a living doing genealogy and for supporting your professional colleagues. I will prepare a statement as the president of CPGC and we will discuss it at the meeting on Tuesday. I will submit a personal statement today, but I will not submit the CPGC statement until it has been approved by the members at the meeting.
Dee Dee King, Certified Genealogist (sm), Certificate 903
Contract Genealogist, US Navy Casualty POW/MIA Branch
Co-Director, Forensic Genealogy Institute http://www.forensicge...
Mail address - PO Box 1085, Manvel TX 77578
Certified Genealogist (CG) is a service mark (sm) of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, conferred to associates who consistently meet ethical and competency standards in accord with peer-reviewed evaluations every five years, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office