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MGC's NERGC Panel on Open Records: Citizens Can Make a Difference
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How many deaths before the SSDI gets updated again?
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  On 26 December 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law the 2013 Ryan-Murray Budget Compromise Bill. Paul Ryan and Patty Murray chaired the joint Senate-House committee that came to the budget agreement. Congress is mandated to pass budgets that balance, which means that every new cost in the budget must be offset by a tax, fee, or savings. Section 203 of the budget bill describes a savings that is an offset to other costs. We discussed the ramifications of Section 203 last December. The National Technical Information Systems (NTIS) is the government division that sells the underlying database that the big genealogy websites put up as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). As a result of the 2013 budget bill, NTIS had to enact two different levels of SSDI access. One level was for genealogists who could no longer access death information until the end of the third calendar...
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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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The Civil Records Committee wants you to know about upcoming changes to the information genealogists will be able to access in the Social Security Death Index. These changes are part of the revenue-generating provisions in the bipartisan budget compromise bill that is currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress. The bill passed the House of Representatives last night. It will be heard in the Senate soon. The changes to the SSDI will take place 90 days after the budget bill passes and is signed into law. The revenue-generating provision mandates that any death reported to the Social Security Administration be withheld from the Social Security Death Index until the end of the calendar year following the third anniversary. This means that a death that takes place, let's say, July 4, 2014, will not appear in the SSDI until January 1, 2018. We and others have blogged about the upcoming changes. You...
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Here at MGC, we’ve been watching the U.S. government confront the massive issue of fraudulent payments. The IRS has been hemorrhaging money by issuing refunds to people without checking to see if the tax returns are truthful. The scope of this problem is staggering. See our post, “The Bottom Line on Tax Fraud? $5 Billion per Year,” from August 5th, 2012. Of that $5 billion, $415 million in potentially fraudulent returns were issued to dead people. As the Washington Post showed in its November 3rd, 2012, infographic, the IRS receives a full list of the nation’s dead from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. The IRS simply wasn’t bothering to check tax returns against the DMF before they issued refunds. The U.S. Congress has been watching this situation and has called administrators in for questioning. Over the past two years, the IRS has made some progress in halting fraudulent...
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Emergency Room Entrance
  Richard McCoy was a member of the records access panel sponsored by MGC at NERGC 2013. His information on medical records and issues of confidentiality and errors struck chords with everyone. Rich has sent us a list of stories on this topic to share. Thank you, Rich!  Jordan Robertson, "How Medical Identity Theft Can Give You a Headache that Will Last for Years," Bloomburg Business News, posted 8 Nov 2012; http://go.bloomberg.com/tech-blog/2012-11-08-how-medical-identity-theft-can-give-you-a-decade-of-headaches/ : viewed 23 April 2013. Angelo Young, "Your Hospital Records Might Not Be As Safe from an Identity Theft As You Think," International Business Times, posted 10 February 2012; http://www.ibtimes.com/your-hospital-records-might-not-be-safe-identity-thief-you-think-1074552 : viewed 23 April 2013. David Schultz, "As Patients' Records Go Digital, Theft and Hacking Problems Grow," Kaiser Health News, posted 3 June 2012; http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2012/June/04/electronic-health-records-theft-hacking.aspx : viewed 23 April 2013. Federal Trade Commission, "Medical Identity Theft," Consumer Information; http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0171-medical-identity-theft : viewed 23 April 2013.   Photograph Courtesy of Microsoft...
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