How to Find a Social Security Number of a Dead Relative

By David Weedmark - Updated June 05, 2017
Social Security card in a wallet

A Social Security number is widely used to prove one's identity, so in the event a relative has passed away, the number can usually be found quite quickly in the deceased's personal papers. If you don't have access to the deceased's personal belongings, you can get the correct Social Security number from the Social Security Administration, or SSA.

Finding a Social Security Number Yourself

If a relative has passed away, there are many places you can find his social security number. For starters, if you have access to your relative's personal belongings, look through his wallet and personal papers for his Social Security card. You can also find the Social Security number on a tax form such as a W-2 or SSA-1099 or a Social Security benefits statement. Pay stubs generally include a person's Social Security number, as do health care records and life insurance policies. You can also check your relative's driver's license 29 states use the SSN as the driver's license number or show it on the license. If your relative served in the military, you should be able to find the Social Security number in those documents as well.

If you can't find the Social Security number in any of these places, contact the funeral director responsible for your relative's funeral. Funeral directors include the deceased's Social Security number on the Statement of Death they file with the federal government. The funeral director normally provides a copy of the Statement of Death to close relatives of the deceased, like a spouse or child.

If these methods fail, contact your local SSA office to inquire about getting the relative's Social Security number.

Requesting a Social Security Record

Through the Freedom of Information Act, you can apply to get a deceased relative's Social Security record from the SSA. Often used in genealogical research, this record includes the person's Social Security application in addition to the SSN.

You have two choices in how you receive this information. For $27, you can get a computer extract of the record, which includes the Social Security number. For $21, you can get a photocopy of the actual application which includes the SSN and much more information, including:

  • applicant's full name, including maiden name
  • address at time of application
  • employer and employer's address
  • date and place of birth
  • parents' full names, including mother's maiden name
  • application date
  • applicant's signature

If the person was born within the last 120 years and the death hasn't been registered with the SSA yet, you may need to provide proof of death. Deaths are almost always registered with the SSA, unless the deceased was too young to receive Social Security benefits and the family never received benefits after the death. The SSA can accept various forms of proof of death, including a death certificate, obituary notice, newspaper article or police report.

You can fill out a Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record online, or print the PDF version, fill it out and mail it to the SSA.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

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