How to Find a Death Certificate With a Social Security Number

by Deborah Greene

When searching out family genealogy, death certificates provide a plethora of information: the cause of death, the full name of the deceased's mother, the address of where the deceased lived, the location of interment and more. Obtaining the death certificate often drives the initial interest in the budding genealogical enthusiast. If you have the Social Security number of the deceased individual, then it is relatively easy to track down a death certificate.

The Social Security Death Index is one of the many death indexes accessible online. Several genealogical sites allow free access to this public record. A link follows this article that will provide access.

Follow the prompts and fill in the fields--name, and Social Security number where prompted.

If the death occurred after 1962, then odds are it is in this database, and the location where the death occurred (state, county, etc.) will appear with the individual's name, birthdate and Social Security number. After determining the database has generated a match, write down the county and state where the death occurred.

Write to the Office of Vital Records of that state, and in your letter state the deceased's name, Social Security number, and your relationship, and enclose the cost for obtaining a copy of the record. (This fee is posted on many state websites, and many states will allow for a download of the record, with payment online).


  • If you know where the death occurred, then writing to the state, with an estimate of the time of death (for example, "between 1959 and 1961") can result in obtaining the death certificate. Again, when writing, include your relationship to the deceased and any other information that would help identify the particular record.


  • If the deceased died before the SSDI was created in 1962, then the Social Security number will do little to help retrieve the death certificate.

About the Author

Deborah Greene's work crosses genres and disciplines. Her articles appear on the web, in community journals and in newspapers throughout arenas in business, commerce, and most recently, an encyclopedia: "On the Move: An Encyclopedia of Immigration, Migration and Nativism in American History." James S. Olson, Ed. New York: Facts on File, 2009. Greene has a B.A. and M..A in English Literature.