Friday, November 20, 2009

SSDI Death Date Discrepancies

In my on going effort to fix the source citations in my genealogy database, I have been working on my ECK family line. My aunt recently sent me some of my grandmother's old records that included many obituaries for the HAEFNER family. When I started adding them to my database, I noticed a few discrepancies between the death dates that I had found in the SSDI and what I found in the obituaries.

I have used the SSDI many times to find death dates for my ancestors. I have found it very helpful in also finding Social Security numbers in order to send for SS-5 applications and birth dates. Many times I have come across death dates that included only the month and year. But this was the first time I had found the dates not matching the actual death date.

I knew that there were problems with researchers assuming that a person's last residence was where the person died. My husband's grandfather's last residence is listed as Florida in the SSDI, but he actually had been living and died in Connecticut. One of my great great uncles died in Ontario on a trip, but his last residence is in Williamsport, Pennsylvania where he lived.

When I entered the obituaries from my grandmother into my database, I found two instances where the death dates did not match.
  • Anastasia (MAYAN) HAEFNER died 15 Nov 1971 according to the SSDI. But her obituary and funeral card give her death date as 30 Nov 1971.
  • Elizabeth (HOCHREITER) HAEFNER died 15 May 1984 according to the SSDI. But her obituary states her death date as 25 May 1984.
At first I thought that the death date given in the SSDI was the date that the Social Security office was notified of the death. But in both cases the SSDI date is before the obituary date. I also find it interesting that the SSDI dates are both the 15th date of the month, but they are 13 years apart.

Is this a case of incorrect data entry? An unknown (at least to me) way to enter the dates? Has anyone else run across this discrepancy in their research? At the very least it reminds us all to look for more than one record to prove information in our databases.

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