SSDI: A Mystery in Need of a Solution with a Prize

“Problem:  A person has died, according to a vaguely written published obituary, which neglects to include a location of death. has the death on its site, citing “Social Security” as the source.

Rootsweb codes their SSDI information that a death certificate has been seen by someone somewhere.For “place” Rootsweb codes it as “FO.”  But nowhere could we find an actual place of death.  Nor a definition of “FO.”

The U.S. home county has no death certificate.
None listed in the home state death index. The home county vital records clerk said to go to the State Department website, because if no state is involved, the U.S. State Department might have records or be handling it.

The State Department site referred me back to the Social Security Administration themselves. In speaking to Social Security by phone, they could find no place of death either.
The Social Security suggestion that this individual may have died outside of the US fits with lifestyle, and is not outside the realm of possibility.

An explanation for the “viewed” death certificate is that Consular officers  abroad might have seen one since deaths of American nationals abroad are handled by them and they get involved with personal effects, etc., to an extent depending upon circumstances.

We have been unable to find any information on whether this is indeed what happened.  At present no one seems to know the answer to the place of death or be able to offer a web site/data base/publication/hotline to determine what the circumstances were.”  Elaine Allen

Anyone who can solve this mystery: 1) identify what “FO” refers to.  2) has a strategy that could verify the death, so a death certificate can be issued.  3)  provide information leading to a death certificate or proof of death–will receive a FREE book of their choosing from my own publication list.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Tune in tomorrow on my NEW Tennessee blog, 17 Mar 2009
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One Response to SSDI: A Mystery in Need of a Solution with a Prize

  1. I can only answer the first part with certainty. According to, FO stands for first party report (family member).

    My recommendation would be to contact the SSA to ask for a copy of the death certificate–or any other information that had been sent to them to verify death.

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