I am very frugal. I like to shop during sales and always have a coupon ready. And this genealogy journey has been no different. That is a lot of the reason why I spend so much time in actual libraries and archives because I don’t want to spend money on genealogy subscriptions to get access to things like newspapers, city directories, and other documents. I have tried to make this journey as inexpensive as possible. But I also know there are some documents that the only way for me to get is by ordering them from a government agency and paying the required fee. One of those documents is the SS5 or Social Security Card Application. This is the form that is completed when you apply for a Social Security number. The SS5 contains vital information such as, date and place of birth as well as parent’s names including the mother’s maiden name.
It seems like within this last year every where I look (or listen) people are talking about SS5s. This document is widely used on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are. It has been the subject of many podcasts that I listen to. So I am very familiar with what this document is and the type of information it contains. My hope was that this document would aid in my research of grandpa Booker. But I was waiting until the right time to request it. I wanted to make sure that I had done enough research on my own before I pay for a document. And the right time was this past February.
I went to the social security website and clicked on forms. I choose Request for Deceased Individual’s Social Security Record (SSA-711) and downloaded the form and instructions. By using the form SSA-711 I was making an official request under the Federal Freedom of Information Act. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only disclose information on a deceased person when acceptable proof of death (e.g., death certificate, obituary, newspaper article, or police report) has been provided. I sent in a copy of grandpa Booker’s death certificate and a copy his newspaper obituary. I also had to send in proof of my identity, so I sent a copy of my driver’s license along with the completed SSA-711 form. I also wrote on all the copies, the SSA-711, both sides of the envelope, and in the memo section of the $27 check – Freedom of Information.
Once I got all of my documents copied, labeled and completed, I put them in the mail addressed to the Social Security Administration Office of Privacy and Disclosure with attention to the Freedom of Information Officer. According to the website it could take between six and eight weeks. But it actually only took about a month. I received a copy of grandpa Booker’s Social Security Application. When I opened the envelope and actually looked at the application with his name on it….I screamed (twice actually). I was so excited. The application has the date and place of his birth along with his parent’s names. It also had where he was employed at the time the application was completed. There were two things about this application that stood out to me, first is that it was dated 1936 which was before he married my grandmother. This is the first document I have of grandpa Booker’s that was before he married my grandmother. The second thing is that he was living in Newport, Arkansas when this application was filled out. That was three years before he married my grandmother. I feel like I’m getting more pieces to this puzzle and am slowly learning more about grandpa Booker and his life. And this is why my journey continues…
Click HERE to read Part 1
Click HERE to read Part 2
Click HERE to read Part 3
Click HERE to read Part 5