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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Social Security Administration
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  The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is the public face of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF), opened to the public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SSDI is only 60% as large as its parent, the DMF. Different federal agencies have access to one or the other in the course of performing their duties. For example, the IRS has full access to the DMF but Homeland Security and the Justice Department are only permitted to see the reduced SSDI.[1] One of the biggest causes of the difference in size between the two files is the November 2011 redaction from the SSDI by the Social Security Administration of 4.5 million deaths, 2.5 million of them in Florida, a red-hot zone for consumer identity theft.[2] Genealogy websites providing access to the SSDI also redact some information from the file. The subscription websites voluntarily stopped including social...
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USHouse in session gov doc

The U.S. House of Representatives in session, www.house.gov.

Every indication so far is that this year will again see efforts to close the SSDI in two ways: first by legislation to close it for three years to all but fraud investigators; second by legislation to make the Freedom of Information Act inapplicable to the Social Security Administration (it was by FOIA that the SSDI was opened two decades ago). Either method would work against genealogists.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Sam Johnson (R TX 3) was reappointed chair of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. The announcement can be read at http://samjohnson.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=316913.

At this time, at least one bill has been filed using text that would close the SSDI for two to three years. Rep. Richard Nugent (R FL 11) filed this bill, known as H.R.295. You can use the Library of Congress THOMAS portal to find the bill’s text and to track its passage at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas. Select “bill number” and type in HR295. The resulting page will provide many access points: to the bill text, to the current committee assignments, etc.

Rep. Mike Capuano (D MA 7) is planning to submit a similar bill. His office has been approached by immigration and tax people in government to submit a bill covering their issues. We were able to contact his Issues Director Kate Auspitz in order to pass on information showing that the core issue is inter-agency communication rather than access to the social security numbers of dead people. We made a case for genealogical access during the critical three-year waiting period for compassionate reasons.

While Congressman Capuano sees merit in our arguments, we will need to make those arguments again at the committee hearings in order to have change happen. We explained that such testimony had been purposefully cut off last year. His office pointed out that he is in the political minority in the House and not able to force a committee chair to permit our testimony. We need to keep our community ready to submit testimony and to be able to articulate the issues when the time comes. So how do we learn that?

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Blog Posting from Sharon Sergeant, member of the Civil Records Committee: It might be the dog days of summer, and the last few months of the current two-year Congressional session, but we are still seeing new legislation being introduced. The latest, sponsored by Rep. Richard Nugent of Florida, condenses previous bills that included closure of the Social Security Death Index (Death Master File or DMF) into a new bill, H.R. 6205. It was introduced on July 26th and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The full text of the new bill can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr6205ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr6205ih.pdf or http://tinyurl.com/8uq9kos  The head of the Senate committee dealing with this issue also filed a new bill, S. 3432, which you can read at http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2012reports/201242080fr.html These bills have the least restrictive wording on closure of the Death Master File. The DMF (which genealogists know as the SSDI) would be closed for two...
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At 3:00 pm Thursday afternoon, 10 May 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio, RPAC met at the National Genealogical Society’s annual convention. On behalf of MGC, I attended as a Massachusetts liaison. What is RPAC? The Records Preservation and Access Committee is a three-person panel with an advisory board. The three panelists are delegates from the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National Genealogical Society, and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. About a dozen people sit as advisors, but the bulk of the work and the bulk of the strategy comes from the three panelists: David Rencher, AG, CG, the Genealogist at FamilySearch in Utah; Fred Moss from Texas; and Jan Meisels Allen from California. Together for many years they have provided advice to state genealogical societies whenever access or preservation issues arise. Last year they supported our efforts to stop a bill that would have closed records back to 1840. This...
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Jan Miesels Allen of RPAC shared the following in a Forensic Genealogy discussion on LinkedInyesterday. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr., MD (R-LA) and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced that the Subcommittees on Oversight and Social Security will hold a hearing on tax fraud involving identity theft. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M EDT. Oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing. We have been advised that the only invited presenters will be from government agencies. See: http://tinyurl.com/7qnot8h. The use of the Death Master File (DMF) also known as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has been purchased by other government agencies, financial institutions, life insurance companies, credit reporting organizations,...
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2 April 2012

Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200

To: US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chair: US Senate Finance Committee, Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth

From: Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt, CGSM, President

Re: Testimony for hearing on "Tax Fraud by Identity Theft, Part 2: Status, Progress, and Potential Solutions," regarding the Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act (S.1534), held Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 10:00 AM, 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
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The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) is an umbrella organization representing more than 36,000 members of genealogical and historical societies who utilize current and historical records to determine kinship. Whether residents of the Commonwealth or descendants of early Massachusetts settlers now living in all fifty states, we wish the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) to remain un-redacted and accessible to the public.

Senate Bill 1534 goes a long way in curbing tax fraud by correcting some of the more egregious problems within the IRS and in law enforcement practices, particularly in Florida, where the bulk of the abuse takes place. The one measure that will hinder rather than help this effort is removal of access to the Death Master File. 

While we are in agreement that there are significant problems within the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and local law enforcement, we need to ensure that legislation proposed to rectify this problem will not have dangerous, if unintended, consequences.

As a tool for research in the genealogical field, the Death Master File is used to determine kinship in myriad ways, just a few of which follow.

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