What is 'Death Master File (DMF)'

The Death Master File (DMF) is a list of people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration since 1962. It is important to realize the Death Master File contains only the death data of people who had Social Security numbers.

Breaking Down 'Death Master File (DMF)'

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Death Master File contains more than 83 million records of deaths reported to the SSA. The Death Master File typically contains the Social Security number, name, date of birth and date of death.

This database is used to help the SSA manage their many programs and benefits and is gathered primarily from family members, funeral homes, the U.S. Postal Service, lawyers and banks. It is important to note that the SSA records are not a comprehensive record of all deaths in the country.

The DMF is an extract of death information on the NUMIDENT, the electronic database that contains the SSA records of Social Security Numbers (SSN) assigned to individuals since 1936. The SSA prepares two versions of the DMF:  the full file contains all death records extracted from the NUMIDENT database, including death data received from the States. The full file is typically only available to Federal and State agencies. The public file is more limited and is comprised of death records taken from the NUMIDENT database, but excluding any data received from the States. The SSA provides this version to the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service, a clearinghouse for government information, which may sell it to public and private organizations.

Accessing Death Data

If a federal agency is interested in entering into a data exchange agreement with the SSA to receive the full file of death information, they must complete the data exchange request form (SSA-157) found on the SSA Website and email the form to ORDP.Data.Exchange@ssa.gov

State agencies interested in entering into a data exchange agreement with the SSA should submit a request via the provisions listed on the SSA Website. Requirements and guidelines can be found on the IRS Website.

Any request for the full file must provide the following information to the SSA: why the request is being made; what legal authority under section 205(r) of the Social Security Act supports the request; the anticipated frequency current and future requests; what safeguards are in place protecting any data to be provided by the SSA, and if the requesting agency currently has a data exchange agreement with the SSA to receive the full file.

  1. Level Death Benefit

    A level death benefit is a life insurance payout that is the ...
  2. Whole Life Insurance

    Whole life insurance provides coverage for the life of the insured ...
  3. Death Taxes

    Death taxes are taxes imposed by the federal and/or state government ...
  4. Uniform Simultaneous Death Act ...

    When the deaths of spouses occur at nearly the same time, the ...
  5. Death Put

    A death put is an option on a bond giving the holder's estate ...
  6. Death By A Thousand Cuts

    Death by a thousand cuts is a figure of speech that refers to ...
Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    How a Death Benefit in a Variable Annuity Works

    A look at how the death benefit in a variable annuity works.
  2. Insurance

    Tips for Helping Clients with Life Insurance Needs

    Life insurance needs will likely change over the client’s lifetime and again financial advisers can provide an objective sounding board.
  3. Insurance

    5 Things You Didn't Know About Life Insurance

    Life insurance policies can be simple or complex; make sure you know as much as you can before setting up yours.
  4. Retirement

    How Survivorship Life Insurance Works

    Should you buy a survivorship life insurance policy?
  5. Retirement

    The Purpose of Having a Social Security Number

    Find out when and why it's necessary to use your social security number and when you should avoid using it.
  6. Retirement

    When Do I Stop Paying Social Security Tax?

    Almost never, unless you belong to one of these special groups.
  7. Small Business

    Successful Companies That Improved With New Leadership

    The death of a successful corporate founder and CEO doesn't necessarily mean the company will fail. Many have flourished afterwards.
  8. Retirement

    An Analysis Of Social Security Benefits And Their Future

    Social Security is a significant driver of the US economy--as good a reason as any to make sure you understand it!
  9. Retirement

    4 Things That Are Reducing Your Social Security

    Worried about Social Security dwindling? We discuss four ways it’s already happening.
  1. Why is accidental life insurance so inexpensive?

    Accidental life insurance is an inexpensive way of obtaining life insurance coverage for yourself or someone else in your ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Intrinsic Value

    Intrinsic value is the perceived or calculated value of a company, including tangible and intangible factors, and may differ ...
  2. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet account that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  3. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  4. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  5. Cost of Debt

    Cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its current debt as part of its capital structure.
  6. Depreciation

    Depreciation is an accounting method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life and is used to account ...
Trading Center