I recently ordered my first SS-5, which is an application for a Social Security Card. This document is available for deceased persons through the Freedom of Information Act. I’ve put off ordering one until now, because it’s a more-expensive document – $27 if you provide the person’s social security number or $29 if you do not. Ordering is an easy process and can be done online. I placed my order on 6/12/10 and was told that I should receive a response within 20 business days. The form arrived in the mail on 7/9/10 which was 19 business days later; they sent me two copies, which I thought was nice.
This document was not at all what I expected. I don’t really know what I expected – something more old-fashioned, I think, since it originated in the 1930’s. But this looks very much like today’s government documents and I’m sure that the current SS-5 application is very similar.
At first I was a little disappointed, as I envisioned the form asking for a work history, which it did not. Upon further reflection, I’ve realized that it actually gave me several pieces of new information for my great-grandfather, Newton Coleman Ward.
So what did I learn?
His address at the time he filed (1939) was RFD #3, Chatsworth, GA. This is significant for a couple of reasons.
- I didn’t have a specific address for him between 1930 (the last available census) and and 1974 (the year of his death).
- This narrows down the time that he and his family moved from Fannin County, Georgia to Murray County. I knew that they moved soon after their son’s death and I fully expected to find them in Murray County when the 1940 census is released. Their son, Worth, died July 9, 1939. This form was completed December 12, 1939, so now I know that the family moved within months Worth’s death.
Newt was born in Newport, Georgia. I knew he was born in Fannin County, but had never seen a specific city or town. This is obviously secondary information, but still valuable, and I have no reason to disbelieve it.
He worked at the Cohutta Talc Company, which was based in Dalton, Georgia. I actually knew this, because I have photos of him from the mine, but now I have documentation and I know when he started working there. Well, approximately. There is a stamp across the form obscuring that month – it says [unreadable]-8-1939. However, he has clearly written Dec. 12, 1939 as the date he signed the form, so I think it is reasonable to assume that he started work on December 8.
All in all, I think this was worth $27. However, I probably won’t order SS-5s very often, just because of the expense.