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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records
New Legislation Would Close the SSDI for 2 Years
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 years. During those two years, according to the House bill's Section 7 (a) [Senate Section 9 (a)], some people can be certified to see the information. Section 7 (b) states that, “A person shall not be certified…unless the Secretary [of the Social Security Administration] determines that a person has a legitimate fraud prevention interest...” Section 7 (c) provides a fine of $1,000 if a certified person uses DMF information for any reason other than to prevent fraud. If that person discloses information about many deaths, the fine can go no higher than $50,000 per year.
The bad news about HR6205 is the idea that the DMF/SSDI needs to be closed to anyone other than those with a certified need. Without regard to garden variety genealogists - certifying medical researchers, social workers, historians, sociologists, employers, heir/unclaimed property/unclaimed body/soldier repatriation/provenance researchers, insurance and pension plan companies, credit bureaus, financial institutions, debtor searchers, etc., would be a bureaucratic nightmare.
The good news about HR6205 is that there is at least a beginning to examine the electronic filing process by which you can pick a social security number out of the air, jury rig the numbers and have a refund transferred to an anonymous prepaid card — and many other schemes well documented in other press articles — in Florida in particular.
Photo credit: Capitol Architect, U.S. Government,
Updated to include Senate bill S. 34332.