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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in SSDI
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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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MGC took on several responsibilities at the 2013 New England Regional Genealogical Conference last week in Manchester, New Hampshire. We ran a discussion on Open Records, we sponsored a luncheon, we put on a special interest group, and we had a booth in the exhibit hall. Records Access Panel We had looked forward to having Thomas MacEntee as our panel discussion moderator. From Chicago, Thomas led a discussion on records access at an annual meeting of the Association of Professional Genealogists. We adopted his format which included skits to make it more interesting for the audience. Alas, there were torrential rains in Chicago and the flooding there together with airline computer problems nixed his attendance at NERGC completely. With Thomas's inspired format, we began to panic. Micheal Leclerc, Genealogist and blogger at Mocavo.com, came to our rescue. He was willing to take on the improvisation as well as moderate a discussion...
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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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The US Congress ( House of Representatives and Senate) has adjourned for elections and won't return until November 13 for the "lame duck" session which will last up until the new Congress is seated in January. No action on the six bills before either the House or Senate regarding the Social Security Death Index (the commercial name of the Death Master File) will occur before the lame duck session -- if then. They had been waiting for the Obama Administration bill, but with Congress out until November 13 nothing has been forthcoming from the Administration at this time. Jan Meisels AllenIAJGS Vice PresidentChairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee...
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I'm a little excited today because in doing some genealogical research I came across a site that provides a portion of the Social Security number (SSN) of individuals. I am glad that not all websites have had a knee jerk reaction and simply redacted these numbers because it is essential that we have access to them in order to PREVENT identity fraud. The owners of the site, called Sysoon, took the time to put a link underneath the SSN which says, "Why we show it," and here is what they say: Identity Theft of the Deceased Identity theft is the fastest growing crime worldwide! How to Prevent Identity Theft of the Deceased? Identity theft: It can happen to anyone, living or dead. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime worldwide. Your identity does not automatically die with you. Identity thieves used the name and Social Security number of someone who is...
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Jan Meisels Allen of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies, and member of the Records Preservation Access Committee (RPAC) keeps abreast of developments that interest anyone concerned with access to public records. She sent out this update and we thought we should republish, with Jan's permission, of course. The US Congress is starting on their "summer vacation" and your elected US Senator and Congressperson will be home.  Getting to know your elected representative is very important--and if you are concerned about continued records access including the Social Security Death Index and that genealogists are NOT the cause of identity theft, there is no better time to make an appointment to meet with your representative and their staff.  2012 is an election year--the entire House of Representatives and 1/3 of the US Senate -- your society is made up of their constituents -- use this time wisely to get to know your elected officials...
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The United States Treasury Department's Acting Deputy Inspector General for Audit just released a lengthy report about the extent of income tax fraud in the U.S. The audit was conducted as a direct result of the Senate and House hearings we have been watching over this past year. Their findings are stunning. You can read the report here. Surely the subcommittee chairs will move their legislation (H.R. 6205 and S. 3432) out of committee with a favorable report with the support of the audit results. Between 2010 and 2012, the fraud more than doubled from 440,581 instances to 1,125,634 instances "meeting the characteristics of confirmed identity theft cases." In 2011, these returns amount to $5,221,018,184 in potentially fraudulant payments. Much of this fraud is apparently generated by criminal groups. It is significantly limited geographically. The report provides the following table. The addresses in the table are unique residential addresses. Five homes...
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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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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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Remember when we all heard about a subcommittee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives about closing the SSDI? There were four bills regarding this, three in the House and one in the U.S. Senate. That Senate bill (S.1534) comes up for a hearing this week. At 10:00 AM Eastern time, on Tuesday, March 20th, the Senate’s subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth has a hearing titled, “Tax Fraud by Identity Theft, Part 2: Status, Progress, and Potential Solutions.” THE HEARING The website for this subcommittee is multipurpose. Before the hearing you can use it to learn who will be testifying and how to submit your own written testimony. During the hearing (10:00 AM Eastern time), you can go to this page to access a streaming video of the hearing itself. The page is: http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=8c908260-5056-a032-525c-4f663b8d35f8 THE BILL Senate bill S.1534 is sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who...
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  U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX) submitted a bill on 18 November 2011 called the “Keep IDs Safe Act.”[1] It was given the number H.R.3475.[2] As Rep. Johnson is the chairperson of the Social Security subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, this bill was immediately scheduled for a hearing before his subcommittee. That hearing took place last week. It was delayed by a few minutes so that at least one other member of the committee could be present before testimony was taken. The testimony was limited to only those people whom Rep. Johnson had pre-approved.   When researching bills here in Massachusetts, I keep a three-column Excel spreadsheet. Column 1 contains the part of the Massachusetts General Laws which describe vital records where each paragraph is in a different row/cell down the column. Column 2 contains the text of the bill where each Section of the bill is in...
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Deciphering the Acronyms The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) is an umbrella organization with both individual and organizational members interested in genealogical and historical research in Massachusetts, and who care about access to public records. MGC monitors legislation, both in Massachusetts and nationally, to ensure that our public records remain accessible. It's not as fun as doing genealogical research, but it is necessary work.  Image courtesy of theUnited States Social Security Administration SSDI stands for Social Security Death Index, the commercial term for the Social Security Administration (SSA) Death Master File (DMF). The DMF is a list of Social Security numbers of people now deceased and whose numbers may not be used by anyone ever again. The Death Master File was created by the SSA to address pension and other forms of benefit fraud, and when used properly, it does just that. It is considered a public document under the Freedom of Information Act, and is sold...
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