What are Social Security Records?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Social Security records are files kept by the United States Social Security Administration. Social Security records include the names, races, genders, and birth dates of those who apply for Social Security cards. They also contain information about a person’s citizenship and his parents. These records usually include details of a person’s earnings over his lifetime as well as data pertaining to any benefits, such as for disability or retirement, he has received. Social Security records also include death data for individuals who had Social Security numbers before they died.

Social Security records contain information submitted by individuals when applying for a Social Security card.
Social Security records contain information submitted by individuals when applying for a Social Security card.

The Social Security Administration maintains records of applications people submit for Social Security cards. As such, Social Security records usually include all of the information a party submitted on his application. This includes such information as the party's name, his name at birth, and other names he has used. It also includes his date and place of birth, citizenship status, ethnicity, race, and gender. These applications even request the applicant’s parents' full names and Social Security numbers as well as the applicant’s address and phone number.

Social Security records include the names, races, genders, and birth dates of people who apply for Social Security cards.
Social Security records include the names, races, genders, and birth dates of people who apply for Social Security cards.

Social Security records also include data concerning a person’s income over his lifetime, which is usually obtained from tax agencies. For example, if a person earned income from employment and paid taxes on it, the information about his earned income is usually included in his Social Security records. The same goes for a person who runs a business. His income totals are reported when he files tax documents each year, and these amounts are reported to the Social Security Administration.

Social Security records also include those that are based on the benefits for which a person has applied or received. For example, if a person has applied for retirement or disability benefits, the Social Security Administration usually maintains a record of his application. If the person receives benefits, his Social Security Administration records usually include details about the types of benefits he received, the amount of money he received, and the frequency with which he received benefits. Additionally, Social Security records also include data about dependents of beneficiaries as well as the survivors of workers who have died.

The Social Security Administration maintains death records as well. The Social Security death index contains records pertaining to the death of each person with a Social Security number as long as that death is reported to the Social Security Administration. Often, these records are used in conducting genealogy research.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


When you apply for Social Security, you really do need to provide a lot of personal information. I suppose that there is a reason behind asking for all that information. They need to establish that you are who you say you are.

It's very important to know your location and information that can verify your earnings record.

But it does seem like a lot of your personal information is right there together in one place.

I'm sure they have tip top security.


Considering the size of the Social Security Administration and all the records it has to maintain, I have been pleased with the service that I have received. I recently retired early and began the process of applying for Social Security.

Everyone I spoke to on the phone at their office was very polite and informative. They answered my questions thoroughly and the whole process went pretty quickly.

I'm sure this isn't the story for everyone, but most people I have talked to say that the process went smoothly.


@strawCake - I know administrative errors do happen, but I'm sure they're not as common as you're making them out to be! Anyway, I'm not ready to write off the Social Security Administration just yet.

I do sometimes wonder about their cyber-security though. They keep records of pretty everything about a person. Those records would be an identity thief's dream come true! Those records contain your birthday, your Social Security number, information about your parents, past jobs, etc etc. I can only imagine what would happen if those records fell into the wrong hands!


I think we all need to keep in mind that there's no guarantee that the Social Security records are actually correct. I read an article awhile ago that said that thousands of people are mistakenly declared dead by the Social Security Administration every year!

Apparently the problem is that data is entered into their computer system incorrectly. A number reversed here, a wrong letter there and-voila-a live person is administratively dead!

Anyway, this apparently creates huge problems for the people who are mistakenly declared dead. They stop receiving government benefits and their personal information is released to public records. Also, their banks close their bank accounts due to their "death."

I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. My point is that I don't trust the Social Security Administration to keep accurate records of my income so I can get my benefits when I get older.


I am trying to plan for my retirement so I won't need to rely on Social Security to live on. I have no idea if it will be available when I am ready to retire and just plan on being able to make it with other funds.

There are several older people I know who have this is their sole income, and it is not much to live on. Somehow they are able to make it, but it doesn't leave room for many extras.

Another transition that has been hard for some of them is not receiving the actual check in the mail but having it directly deposited.

I have always lived close enough to a big city where there is a social security office location I can visit in person if I need to. For some people this is not a convenient option, and they have to deal with everything over the phone or by mail.


When I get my Social Security statement in the mail, I wonder if I will really have access to that money I have put in to the system.

It seems like for years I have heard that the system is going to be broke by a certain date in the future and that really makes me wonder.

I think I am more worried about it for my kids and grand kids than I am for myself. I am old enough that I might not be affected as much, but they are just getting started.

It is kind of mind boggling to see how much income you have made through the years. Even more so to realize how much of it you don't even see because it goes toward Social Security.


I love getting those Social Security statements that project my income that I would receive from Social Security at retirement. It makes me feel a little more secure knowing that I have a little extra nest egg in the future. My mother in law just received her first Social Security check. She opted to retire at 62, knowing that her annuity would be reduced because she did not wait until she was 65, which was her full retirement age.

The way she sees it is that she rather have something guaranteed today instead of something promised for tomorrow. She says she doesn’t know how long she will live and would rather use the extra money now rather than wait until later.

I don’t know what I would do because you do get substantially more money if you wait for your full retirement age, but it is also nice to start collecting your money as soon as you can because you can also invest that money if you didn’t need it for your basic expenses. Thank goodness I have a long way to go before I have to make that decision.

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