Virtually every American fills out (or has someone else fill out) an application form for a Social Security number. It is possible to get a copy of the original application from the Social Security Administration. These can be very valuable documents for family history and genealogical research. Here's how to do it.
Learn About SS-5
The Social Security application form is formally known as Form SS-5. Though it has changed over time, it is generally chock full of useful information for family history research.
This is especially true in the early days of the Social Security program, where Form SS-5 was mostly filled out for adults (rather than for children, as is often the case today).
The Social Security application often includes:
Applicant's full name, and maiden name, if appropriate. Complete address information Current employer Date and place of birth Full names of both parents, including mother's maiden name Race Date of Employment Applicant's signature
As you can see, there's a lot of wonderful information there that can be very useful in compiling a family history
As a thrid party, you can only request a copy of an original Social Security application for someone who has died. It helps greatly to have as much application information as possible, but especially a person's full name and Social Security number, if known.
If not, then it helps the search process to provide related information, such as address, parents names, and so on. In this way, the Social Security Administration can confirm that they are providing the appropriate record.
Request A Copy Of SS-5
Another form is used to actually request a copy of someone's original SSN application. On paper, this is known as "Social Security Number Record - Third Party Request for Extract or Photocopy."
However, the easiest way to make the request is online at the Social Security Online website, using the "Request for Deceased Individual's Social Security Record". Use the link in the Resources section to go directly to this site.
Note that there is a fee for the service ranging from $16-39, depending on how much information you provide (whether you do or don't know the SSN), and what type of record you request.