I saw this a while back and noticed some other bloggers talking about it – RPAC at FGS 2019 in DC — Is This A Breakthrough? : https://fgs.org/rpac-at-fgs-2019-in-dc/. Article was updated September 3, 2019.
I don’t agree with most of the current limits that were recommended back in 2011:
Her remarks suggest a significant departure from the embargo provision of the 2011 version of the Model Act which would have limited access to birth certificates for 125 years, death certificates for 75 years and marriage and divorce records for 100 years.
I am going to comment on this part of the article.
Shawna specifically acknowledged the absence of statistical data demonstrating that longer embargo periods help thwart identity theft.
Just because there is an absence of statistical data doesn’t mean much. The thought for many appears to be absence of evidence is evidence of absence – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_absence. Here’s the point often missed when it comes to absence of evidence:
“Absence of evidence is not evidence.”
How much statistically data has been collected on this issue? In terms of birth certificates or birth information, I think it safer to go with what can be done with that information than blindly assuming that it’s safe to release. If a state or location marks deceased prominently on the birth certificate – be the child was stillborn, dead shortly after birth, or is known to be deceased (state death index or Social Security Death Index), I don’t have a problem with those being released a lot sooner than if the person is alive. If marriage information includes certain things, it should also fall in this category with the exception for those known to be deceased. For death certificates, I think having a fairly short time restriction is reasonable. In addition, if the person is over 120 years old based on birth or marriage information, I am fine with the information being available.
In the U. S., the Social Security Administration (SSA) will release information about a person’s Social Security information with certain restrictions: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-711.pdf (PDF).
PROCESSING LIMITATIONS: A Request for information CANNOT be processed for:
INDIVIDUALS WHO DIED BEFORE NOVEMBER 1936. INDIVIDUALS BORN BEFORE 1865 (unless you furnish a Social Security Number (SSN)).
Also, https://www.ssa.gov/foia/request.htmlfor SS-5 requests, I bolded the first parts as the individual(s) names may be redacted if you don’t meet the restrictions SSA has in place – written consent, acceptable proof of death, etc.
SS-5 requests involving extreme age:
We will not disclose information about any person in our records unless: 1) the number holder has provided written consent or we have acceptable proof of his or her death; or 2) the number holder is at least 100 years old and we have acceptable proof of his or her death; or 3) the number holder is more than 120 years old.
In addition, we do not release the parents’ names unless: 1) we have the parents’ written consent or acceptable proof of death for the parents; or 2) the number holder is at least 100 years old and we have acceptable proof of his or her death; or 3) the number holder is more than 120 years old.
Acceptable proofs of death include:
- a copy of a public record of death; or
- a statement of death from a funeral director; or
- a statement of death by the attending physician or the superintendent, physician, or intern of the institution where the person died; or
- a copy of the coroner’s report of death or the verdict of the coroner’s jury; or
- a copy of an official report of death or finding of death made by an agency or department of the U.S. which is authorized or required to make such a report or finding in the administration of any law of the U.S.; or
- an obituary with sufficient identifying information.
Long before identity theft was as easy as it can be now, I knew someone who used other people’s Social Security Numbers when working. I am not sure the reasoning behind it as that meant the person didn’t get credit for the work when it came time to apply for Social Security retirement. I think it was more a case of the person not trusting the government or may have owed money to the government and didn’t want to deal with garnishment issues.