When to Request a Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record

There are situations in which the spouse and/or dependent child may need to request a deceased individual’s Social Security record.  Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), certain persons can request Social Security record information. If you’re a surviving spouse, divorced spouse, or dependent child of a deceased Social Security beneficiary, you will need to fill out SSA Form 771 to request a Social Security record. Access the form by:

  • Going online at ssa.gov/forms/ssa-711.pdf. Print and fill out the form and provide the information requested. If you fail to provide information SSA asks for, it may prevent or delay Social Security’s timely response to your request. Mail the form by regular U.S. post or send your request by express mail to SSA headquarters.
  • Obtain a copy of the form at your local Social Security field office. If you need help finding the SSA office nearest you, visit ssa.gov/locator to search by zip code.
  • Alternatively, call SSA’s general information number at 1-800-772-1213 to request help.
  • If you’re planning to apply for survivors’ benefits based on a deceased or former divorced spouse’s Social Security earnings, it’s important to review his or her work credits and earnings record. If you and the now-deceased Social Security beneficiary are divorced, requesting the deceased individual’s Social Security record can help you provide accurate information on your benefits claim.

Request a Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record after Divorce

If your ex-husband or wife was married to you for at least 10 years, and you meet certain age and/or disability and other requirements, you may claim survivors’ benefits from Social Security. How much the ex-spouse earned over a lifetime is essential information to computing your survivors’ benefits. It doesn’t matter if the now-deceased former spouse remarried. You may still apply for Social Security survivors’ benefits:

  • You must be at least 60 years old to apply for a former spouse’s Social Security survivors’ benefits. If you remarried after divorcing him or her, you can’t request survivors’ benefits.
  • Importantly, if you care for a young child (less than 16 years old) of the marriage, or a disabled child of the marriage, or a child that you and the ex-spouse legally adopted, the age limit may not apply. This circumstance may qualify you as a surviving divorced parent and also affect the amount of Social Security survivors receive on the worker’s earnings record.
  • If you’re approved for survivors’ benefits and you later remarry (or get divorced again after remarriage), the benefits you receive from Social Security can be affected. If you remarry after age 60 and you currently receive widow/widower benefits, these benefits may continue.

Request the Social Security Record of a Deceased Spouse to Confirm Earnings Credits

It’s each citizen or legal alien’s responsibility to check his or her Social Security earnings record on a regular basis. How much you actually earned and contributed to Social Security might differ from the information Social Security has in the Social Security record.

If your now deceased spouse was self-employed and delayed filing net income returns for any reason, current Social Security records might not reflect an accurate picture of how much he or she earned. You can request the deceased individual’s Social Security record to verify the information. If the statute of limitations for reporting all of his or her earnings hasn’t elapsed, you can correct the information. Consult a financial adviser about your situation.

Social Security Record of a Deceased Individual for Genealogical Research

If you’re interested in filling out the leaves on your family tree, you might be surprised to learn how much information your forebears’ Social Security records contain. You can perform a quick Social Security Death Index records search for free online. To collect the complete record of the deceased individual, you must request it from Social Security.

Note that if your request for the deceased individual’s Social Security record doesn’t directly pertain to matters relating to Social Security benefits or programs, SSA may ask you to pay for information by credit card (you must sign SSA Form 714 to do so), check, or money order.