One of the easiest places to find a free version of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has been removed. The database has been removed from RootsWeb. According to the web page on RootsWeb, the information has been removed because of “sensitivities around the information.” So you are directed to Ancestry.com where they have all the data in the database except for the Social Security number “for any person that has passed away within the past 10 years.”
Under pressure from some the the States, data in the current release of the SSDI will be removed. This is death records that originally came from the States to the Social Security Administration. That could amount to 4.8 million people out of approximately 90 million being removed in the next release of the SSDI. In the future, the effect of some States not releasing deaths to the Social Security Administration will be that the number of deaths recorded will be reduced by an estimated amount of 36%.
For now, the SSDI is still available on FamilySearch.org, GenealogyBank and AmericanAncestors.org. Megan Smolenyak in this recent blog posting thinks that public access to the SSDI is under such severe attack that public access may be discontinued altogether. The reason given for limiting SSDI is for protection against thieves who are stealing the identities of deceased children. Megan gives great information on why is not the case. She also refers to this blog posting by Kimberly Powell which is a summery of what is happening.
UPDATE 15 Dec.
GenealogyBank has removed the Social Security numbers from their online SSDI database. Will other websites follow?