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Barack Obama social security record missing from government files

OK, I’ve had my sensational headline fun. This article is about Barack Obama, Sr., the President’s father.

I don’t know why birthers make such a big deal about the President’s social-security number; it’s as if they think that not having a valid number means someone is a foreigner. The fact is that you don’t have to be a citizen to have a social-security number, evidenced by the fact that Barack Obama, Sr., British subject, applied for and received a number (575-44-4342) in 1960. Prior to 1973, social-security cards were issued by local offices around the country and the “575” prefix refers to the offices in Hawaii1.

What’s missing is a Social Security Death Index entry for Barack Obama, Sr. The fact that this is missing may have been reported before, but I just stumbled on it today. It’s not surprising because Barack Obama, Sr., was not a US citizen, nor did he die in the United States. Under those circumstances I think it reasonable that no official notice of his death was forwarded to the Social Security Administration. This is a caution: not every deceased social-security number holder is in the SSDI.


1See Social Security Numbers Structure for a list of area prefixes.

It’s interesting to note, given all the brouhaha about President Obama having a social-security number normally issued to Connecticut applicants, that the Social Security Administration recently abolished the area prefix scheme entirely, instituting in its place a completely random number assignment starting June 25, 2011. Lest anyone think this was an Obama administration attempt to hide something, the proposal to randomize was issued on July 3, 2007. There are a number of technical reasons why randomization is a good thing. New number ranges will become available, but SSN’s beginning with “000” and “666” are still off limits as are numbers between “900” and “999.”

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44 Responses to Barack Obama social security record missing from government files

  1. avatar
    Thrifty May 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    It’s interesting to note, given all the brouhaha about President Obama having a social-security number normally issued to Connecticut applicants, that the Social Security Administration recently abolished the area prefix scheme entirely, instituting in its place a completely random number assignment starting June 25, 2011. Lest anyone think this was an Obama administration attempt to hide something, the proposal to randomize was issued on July 3, 2007. There are a number of technical reasons why randomization is a good thing. One curious side effect of the change is that social-security numbers beginning “000” and “666” are now possible.

    In the summer of 2005 I did some temp work processing paperwork for a company that does… something… with student loans (I was only there 4 months and I never really figured out what they did). I dealt with a lot of social security numbers, and I noticed that none of them went higher than a certain upper boundary. I think maybe the highest numbers we ever saw were in the 500 or 600 range (for the first 3 digits). It led me to believe that there were no SSNs anywhere in the 700-999 range. Is that no longer true?

  2. avatar
    Rickey May 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Oftentimes family members will not report a death to Social Security if the deceased was not collecting Social Security benefits, which is one reason why many names do not show up in the Social Security Death Index.

    Obama’s mother is listed and she wasn’t quite 53 when she died, but she was seriously ill for some time and may well have been receiving SSDI during the last year of her life.

  3. avatar
    Rickey May 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Thrifty: In the summer of 2005 I did some temp work processing paperwork for a company that does… something… with student loans (I was only there 4 months and I never really figured out what they did).I dealt with a lot of social security numbers, and I noticed that none of them went higher than a certain upper boundary.I think maybe the highest numbers we ever saw were in the 500 or 600 range (for the first 3 digits).It led me to believe that there were no SSNs anywhere in the 700-999 range.Is that no longer true?

    700-728 were reserved for railroad retirees. There also is a relatively new category, called Enumeration Upon Entry, numbers which are given to legal immigrants upon their entry into the U.S. Those currently are in the 729-733 range, regardless of where in the U.S. they go to live.734-999 have never been used, to my knowledge.

  4. avatar
    Chef May 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.

  5. avatar
    Scientist May 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Chef: It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.

    Recent studies suggest that those who have a problem with queers are typically queer themselves…

  6. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Please accept my apology for misstating that numbers beginning “000” and “666” will become available; I read that wrong.

    For the numbers that have been used in the past, including a mention of the ranges that you observed don’t occur, see:

    http://www.usrecordsearch.com/ssn.htm

    For more information on randomization and new number series that will become available, see:

    http://www.ssa.gov/employer/randomizationfaqs.html

    That latter link was intended to be in the article, but was omitted. Fixed now.

    Thrifty: It led me to believe that there were no SSNs anywhere in the 700-999 range. Is that no longer true?

  7. avatar
    Majority Will May 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    “It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.”

    That’s an odd way to characterize anyone on the staff of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

  8. avatar
    That Other Mike May 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    it’s as if they think that not having a valid number means someone is a foreigner. The fact is that you don’t have to be a citizen to have a social-security number

    Mine was issued automatically when I became a permanent resident.

  9. avatar
    JoZeppy May 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Chef:
    It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.

    Actually, the we’re not discussing the President’s documents…we’re discussing his father’s documents. Secondly, there is nothing unusual about his father not being on the death index. He did not die within the US, so why would it have been reported to SSA? Add to that, no one claimed survivor benefits, so SSA would never have any an opportunity to find out he died.

  10. avatar
    Obsolete May 8, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Chef:
    It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.

    I hope no one actually expected a birther to read past the headline…

  11. avatar
    Lupin May 8, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    I had to deal with your SS administration last year; my mother-in-law (a US citizen) died here in France at age 88. After we got the US consulate to issue a US death certificate based on the French death certificate, we then sent a copy to the SS administration. Because my mother-in-law passed away on the 21st of the month, one final benefit payment was made on her French bank account after her death. But the SS Administration couldn’t reclaim the money as the bank closed the account and settle the Estate very quickly. (It took two months to settle the Estate here; seven months in the US; just saying.) So we wrote back to the SSA and gave them the name and address of the US probate attorney that was taking care of settling the Estate. Unlike a couple of other creditors who did manifest themselves (including her US Government pension entity OPM), the SSA never wrote, never contacted the attorney. So it goes.

    With respect to the topic at hand, the one thing I got is that in order for them to register the death of a US citizen abroad, they need a US death certificate, which can only be delivered by the local consulate, but they had more complicated requirements than merely mailing them a copy of the French death certificate (which is automatically issued within 72 hours without the family having to do much if anything at all); my point is, if I’d been lackadaisical in scrupulously following the paper trail, and providing the exact paperwork asked of me (which entailed asking the doctor a separate document regarding the COD), my mother-in-law’s death would not have been registered at all.

    I wonder how many people don’t bother.

  12. avatar
    The Magic M May 8, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: Please accept my apology for misstating that numbers beginning “000″ and “666″ will become available; I read that wrong.

    Obviously 666 will be reserved for future Republican presidents. ;)
    (And I’m itching to start a birther rumour that it was reserved for members of the Obama administration.)

  13. avatar
    Conspiracy Obama Theory May 8, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Reading stories about Obama’s birth certificate from outside America (Australia), I have to say that there must be better things that the media could be reporting on? They all must be bored or completely delusional.

  14. avatar
    Keith May 8, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Conspiracy Obama Theory:
    Reading stories about Obama’s birth certificate from outside America (Australia), I have to say that there must be better things that the media could be reporting on? They all must be bored or completely delusional.

    I’m also in Australia. What media is reporting on “birtherism”? Certainly not Australian. And in general, not American. Seems to me its only being followed by cultists on both sides of the fence.

  15. avatar
    Thrifty May 8, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    The story doesn’t get that much press. Mostly, birtherism is a hobby that only occasionally gets big headlines.

    Besides that, I truly hate it when someone says “this story is insignificant; doesn’t the press have something better to report on”? The press is more than capable of reporting on multiple stories of varying significance at once. This was true when the major source of news was on newspapers, it was true when it expanded to radio, it was true when it further expanded to television and now with the limitless space of the Internet, it’s more true than ever.

    Conspiracy Obama Theory:
    Reading stories about Obama’s birth certificate from outside America (Australia), I have to say that there must be better things that the media could be reporting on? They all must be bored or completely delusional.

  16. avatar
    Majority Will May 8, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Thrifty: Besides that, I truly hate it when someone says “this story is insignificant; doesn’t the press have something better to report on”? The press is more than capable of reporting on multiple stories of varying significance at once. This was true when the major source of news was on newspapers, it was true when it expanded to radio, it was true when it further expanded to television and now with the limitless space of the Internet, it’s more true than ever.

    Well said.

    It’s also annoying when people cite personal or anonymous blogs as news sources.

    The credibility and reputation of professional journalism is being destroyed by “I read it on the internet so it must be true”.

  17. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Lupin:

    I wonder how many people don’t bother.

    There also are people who deliberately do not report a death to Social Security so they can keep cashing the deceased’s checks.

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    In the United States, death reporting to the SSA is automatic when the death is registered by the state. SSA actually pays states to supply verified information quickly.

    Rickey: There also are people who deliberately do not report a death to Social Security so they can keep cashing the deceased’s checks.

  19. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    My father’s middle name is misspelled on my birth certificate, and my mother’s middle name is misspelled on my souvenir hospital birth certificate. I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life. Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality.

    Chef: It’s weird how much queerness there is in the prez’s simplest Docs.

  20. avatar
    Lupin May 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    My father’s middle name is misspelled on my birth certificate, and my mother’s middle name is misspelled on my souvenir hospital birth certificate. I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life. Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality.

    How very true!

  21. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I hope it’s clear that I don’t write for the birther audience.

    Obsolete: I hope no one actually expected a birther to read past the headline…

  22. avatar
    Jim May 8, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    My father’s middle name is misspelled on my birth certificate, and my mother’s middle name is misspelled on my souvenir hospital birth certificate. I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life. Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality.

    Only when it suits their needs…or their paranoia.

  23. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    In the United States, death reporting to the SSA is automatic when the death is registered by the state. SSA actually pays states to supply verified information quickly.

    Yes, but not all deaths are reported to the state. People who are planning to continue collecting a decedent’s Social Security benefits will go to great lengths to hide the fact of the death.

    Another problem is that not all states have a central depository for death certificates. In New York, for example, the New York State Department of Health does not maintain records of deaths which occur within New York City. Different custodians of records means different procedures for handling the records, thus leading to problems.

    In my work I have held in my hands death certificates for a number of adults who died in New York State but whose names cannot be found in the Social Security Death Index.

  24. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life.

    Excellent point. When I was in the Navy eons ago, half of my work involved correcting the clerical errors or others. And there were others who had to correct my clerical errors.

  25. avatar
    gorefan May 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life.

    For me the perfect example of this is the Nordyke sisters. Gretchen was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while Susan was born in Honolulu, Oahu.

    Dr. Conspiracy: Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality.

    They also extrapolate out from a remarkably small sample size.

    “My BC doesn’t have any mistakes, therefore no ones BC should have any mistakes.”

  26. avatar
    Scientist May 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life. Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality

    Just to be clear, the non-reporting of Barack Obama Sr’s death to the SSA was neither a clerical error, nor fraud, nor even really an oversight. There was simply no reason to EVER report it. He lived in the US for approximately 5 years, during all of which he was supported by various student stipends and fellowships, which are generally not subject to either income tax or FICA. So, he likely never paid into Social Security, and thus was never eliigible for a penny in benefits, alive or dead, despite his having held an SSN.

    Given the circumstances, it would have been rather pointless to report his death.

  27. avatar
    Sef May 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Rickey: In my work I have held in my hands death certificates for a number of adults who died in New York State but whose names cannot be found in the Social Security Death Index.

    Doesn’t that also mean that no one received the SS death benefit?

  28. avatar
    Majority Will May 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Rickey: Excellent point. When I was in the Navy eons ago, half of my work involved correcting the clerical errors or others. And there were others who had to correct my clerical errors.

    . . . the clerical errors of others. :-D

  29. avatar
    donna May 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    in another forum yesterday, someone posted about obama’s ct SS# – when i refuted it the reply was “its still alive, rush mentioned it today”

  30. avatar
    Paper May 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    My mother’s maiden name is misspelled on my birth certificate. (another data point.)

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    My father’s middle name is misspelled on my birth certificate, and my mother’s middle name is misspelled on my souvenir hospital birth certificate. I actually find small mistakes a normal part of life. Birthers live in an idealized world disjoint from messy reality.

  31. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    And I spent 36 years in government information systems, and I saw lots of errors. I don’t recall the exact number, but I think it was about 16 different ways we found “Atlanta” spelled.

    Rickey: When I was in the Navy eons ago, half of my work involved correcting the clerical errors or others.

  32. avatar
    Northland10 May 8, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Reminds me of one our former data entry staff who managed the enter somebody’s name 12 times and each time it was spelled differently. I decided his typing was like lightning, it never hit the same thing twice.

    Thank God for typos, entry errors, glitches and just plain dirty data. Without it, I would have to find a new job to pay for my church music job.

    Dr. Conspiracy: I don’t recall the exact number, but I think it was about 16 different ways we found “Atlanta” spelled.

  33. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Majority Will: . . . the clerical errors of others.

    Good catch!

    As someone who does a lot of writing in my work, I can attest to the fact that it is much easier to proofread someone else’s writing than my own writing. The mind plays tricks on you – with your own writing, your mind knows what is supposed to be there and sometimes sees what should be there instead of what actually is there.

  34. avatar
    Majority Will May 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Rickey: Good catch!

    As someone who does a lot of writing in my work, I can attest to the fact that it is much easier to proofread someone else’s writing than my own writing. The mind plays tricks on you – with your own writing, your mind knows what is supposed to be there and sometimes sees what should be there instead of what actually is there.

    Ditto.

  35. avatar
    linda May 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    In preparing a document for signing, I once typed xxx, by attorney-in-fart, xxx.

    I thought I would never live that down.

    Rickey: with your own writing, your mind knows what is supposed to be there and sometimes sees what should be there instead of what actually is there.

  36. avatar
    Rickey May 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    Sef: Doesn’t that also mean that no one received the SS death benefit?

    Apparently it isn’t necessary for someone to claim the death benefit for the deceased person to be listed in the death index. I often see entries in which there is no information about where the death benefit was paid, which I assume means that no death benefit was paid. However, if a death benefit was paid, the deceased’s name is in the index.

    When I am asked to find out if someone has died, I tell them that if the person is listed in the death index it means that he/she is dead, but if the person isn’t listed it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she is alive.

  37. avatar
    Joey May 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I found this interesting, though off topic of this thread:
    From the Huffington Post of today:
    Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is disputing claims made by one of his “special deputies” who recently wrote a book claiming that the Maricopa County lawman has botched the bizarre, high-profile investigation into President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and other documents.

    The book, titled “A Question of Credibility: A Conflict of Interest,” accuses Arpaio and his “Cold Case Posse” of not conducting the probe in good faith. It’s written by fellow birthers Michelle Dallacroce, who has been given the honorary title of “special deputy” by Arpaio, and Michael Bruning. In it, they charge that Arpaio has created a “public relation frenzy” as part of a “self-serving” stunt that won’t produce results.

    “It’s all wrong,” Arpaio told the Phoenix New Times of the book, going on to admit that he hadn’t actually read it.

    The New Times relays one of the book’s key claims, which alleges that renowned conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, a regular contributor over at birther bastion WorldNetDaily, was given “special deputy” status in the investigation.

    From the Times:

    That would mean that a man claiming to be an “investigative reporter” was made a “special deputy,” given material from an investigation that hasn’t been released to the public, and co-author a book with the lead investigator that’s being sold for profit.

    Arpaio’s office didn’t respond to a Times request for comment on the issue.

    Last year, Arpaio rolled out his “Cold Case Posse” effort at a Tea Party townhall meeting that featured prominent members of the birthers movement, such as California dentist and GOP Senate candidate Orly Taitz. Months later, he released the findings, determining that there was probable cause to believe Obama’s long-from birth certificate, released last spring by the White House, was a forgery. Late last month, Arpaio teased the uncovering of additional evidence, that he said he would release at a later date.

  38. avatar
    Keith May 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Paper:
    My mother’s maiden name is misspelled on my birth certificate.(another data point.)

    And another: my mother’s given name is misspelled on my birth certificate. The white on black copy I got years ago when I applied for my passport had the name manually corrected (because in the application letter I told them it was wrong) before it was photocopied (by what ever process it was that produced negatives instead of positives. However the computer printed one that I got last year has it misspelled again.

  39. avatar
    Ed May 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    574 is the prefix for ALASKA Soc #’s…
    575 is Hawaiian prefix.
    Please fix. Thanks, Ed

  40. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Fixed. Thanks.

    Ed: Please fix. Thanks, Ed

  41. avatar
    Joey May 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Scientist: Recent studies suggest that those who have a problem with queers are typically queer themselves…

    You say “recentstudies suggest that those who a problem with queers are typically queer themselves”. Okay, Name One. Personally I think you made it up, perhaps to cover for the fact that you yourself may be “queer”.

  42. avatar
    Thomas Brown May 19, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    Joey: You say “recentstudies suggest that those who a problem with queers are typically queer themselves”.Okay, Name One. Personally I think you made it up, perhaps to cover for the fact that you yourself may be “queer”.

    The last one I read about was one where subjects’ brain activity in the sexual arousal areas was measured while they viewed different images, and then their responses were correlated with the subjects’ self-reported tolerance for homosexuals.

    People who were tolerant of homosxuality showed less arousal while viewing homoerotic images, while those who were most violently homophobic showed pronounced arousal.

    But this is a venerable observation; as Shakespeare put it, “Methinks he protesteth too much.” I think Euripides said something in the same vein, but what scant knowledge of the Greek authors I once had is sinking fast into the shifting sand of the hour-glass.

    Interesting nonetheless that science has provided clinical, reproducible proof of what has been suspected subjectively for millenia.

  43. avatar
    Majority Will May 19, 2012 at 6:46 am #

    Joey: You say “recentstudies suggest that those who a problem with queers are typically queer themselves”.Okay, Name One. Personally I think you made it up, perhaps to cover for the fact that you yourself may be “queer”.

    Former Republican Senator Larry Craig from Idaho

    An anti-gay political record and a guilty plea for disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer said Craig made a sexual advance toward him in an airport men’s room is credible evidence.

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/2007/08/28/143801/mens-room-arrest-reopens-questions.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Craig

  44. avatar
    Scientist May 19, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Joey: You say “recentstudies suggest that those who a problem with queers are typically queer themselves”. Okay, Name One

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/201204/are-homophobic-people-really-gay-and-not-accepting-it