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List of People Report: Finding SSDI Candidates

Our access to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), also called the Death Master File, is currently being threatened by four bills in Congress. Although genealogists are signing petitions and writing our representatives hoping to wake them up to the real basis of identity theft in this country, our efforts may be to no avail. Before we lose online access to this valuable resource, let's update our personal research. TMG should be able to give us a quick list of all the people in our database who might be found in the SSDI. Let's create that report.

  1. First, determine the type of report we want. DUH! We want a list of people.
  2. What people belong on that list? We don't want anyone we've already found in the SSDI and we don't want anyone who was born and died before the Social Security Administration existed. We want a filtered group that includes only people who might have had a Social Security number, but who we haven't yet searched for on the SSDI.
  3. What kind of output do we need? We don't want a Print Preview, because this project may take some time to finish. We need to send it to a file, and for research purposes, a spreadsheet may be best. It can be sorted in several ways, so patterns can be readily seen, and it can be easily annotated as we research.
  4. What information do we want in the report? This data will appear in the Output Columns. Name is necessary, and if entered as Last, Given Names allows easy sorting by surname. ID Number makes it easy to find the person in our database. Birth and death dates may help uniquely identify people in the SSDI. Other potentially helpful bits of information for our report include: gender, place of birth and/or death, and spouse's name.

Sometimes the choice of list reports is not as obvious as this example suggests. This PDF chart compares the options in the various TMG "List of ..." reports.

Report Definition

Report Definition Screen

The image on the left shows the Report Definition Screen for this report. The report configuration name is "TVTMG_SSN_candidates." The subjects will be part of a filtered group, and the report will be saved to an Excel file. If you don't use Excel, save this report to a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file. You can then import it into your spreadsheet of choice.

Report Filter

Report Filter Screen

Creating a filter takes a little practice, and we don't always get it right the first time. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of filters and Boolean logic, read the page entitled " Filters Made Simple -- Maybe". These points describe the results of this filter.

  • This filter combines AND and OR operators, so parentheses must be used.
  • The [?] in lines two and four allow you to insert a date each time this report is used. Let's assume a 1 January 1951 date for line two and a 1 January 1900 date for line four.
  • The first line is: SSN... # of Tags = Equals 0. Any person who does not have a SSN tag will "stick" to the filter.
  • The next two lines are enclosed by parentheses and must be processed together before combining the results with the preceding statement. Death Group Date Does not come before [?] OR Death Group # of Tags = Equals 0. This means that any person whose death occurs after 1 January 1951 will "stick" to the filter and, since these lines are connected by the OR operator, any person without a Death tag will "stick."
  • The two lines in parentheses are connected to the first line by the AND operator. That means that anyone still left in the filter will be someone with no SSN tag who died after 1 January 1951 or who does not have a death tag.
  • The last line is: Birth Group... Date Does not come before [?]. We can ignore people born long before the creation of the Social Security Administration. Using the 1 January 1900 date, this means that only people born after 1 January 1900 will "stick" to the filter. This line is connected to the preceding lines by the AND operator.
  • The only people left after all the filter lines processed meet these criteria: 1) They do not have a SSN tag; 2) they died after 1 January 1951 or no death tag has been entered for them; and 3) they were born after 1 January 1900.

Report Options

Report Options Screen

What information do you want in your report? You have nine columns available in TMG's Output Columns tab in the Report Options. In a List of People report, Name is a given bit of information. Birth and death dates help uniquely identify a person. Including the ID number of each person allows quick access to that person's Details window. Why did I include Sex in this report? It allowed me to go through the males on the list quickly; their surnames don't change with marriage. Finding women in the SSDI takes a little more work. Adding spouse names to the report output would help, but remember that TMG uses the last-viewed spouse in these list reports. That's not a problem if a woman was married only once, but what if she were married several times?

Report Sample

Sample Report

This report was generated with the Tri-Valley TMG Users Group's enhanced sample database. To increase the number of subjects, I changed the birth date to those born after 1 January 1880. It wouldn't take much time to search the SSDI for these few names. Unfortunately, my personal database yielded a much longer list of candidates!

You're not finished with this report. As you search the SSDI for every person on your list, annotate this report with your results, especially noting negative results with the date and description of the failed searches. Save the file and attach it as an Exhibit to your SSDI entry in the Master Source List. This is one way to keep track of your ongoing research in this source.

This report is fine if you've been adding information to the SSN tag. What if you haven't? What if you've been using the SSDI as a source for possible birth and death information, but you haven't been adding a separate SSN tag? That's the situation for one of our members. TMG should be able to generate a report to help her out, too, but it's not as simple as this one. Stay tuned!