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Board Recommends Shifting Death Data Collection to Treasury

June 18, 2019

The Social Security Advisory Board Recommends Shifting Death Data Collection to Treasury


Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) records about 8,000 living people as deceased and shares those data with other federal agencies and certified users, such as banks and credit bureaus. The consequences for affected individuals can be severe, including bank account closure, denial of credit or employment, and other actions causing significant economic hardships.

The Board’s latest report, Social Security and the Death Master File, examines SSA’s process to collect and disseminate death data to learn why living people are recorded as dead by SSA. The report details why SSA’s death data collection and dissemination should be shifted to the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) Do Not Pay portal and conducted on behalf of the federal government.

Currently, Social Security uses trust fund resources to purchase state death data shared with other federal benefit paying agencies. Treasury could purchase state death data using general revenues and manage the data using its Do Not Pay portal.