New procedure for death record requests


(Posted Oct. 29, 2015)

With the passage of Senate Bill 61 on Oct. 15, all local health departments must follow a new procedure when fulfilling requests for death records of citizens who pass away in Ohio. The bill prohibits local health departments from disclosing a social security number on a certified death record to an individual who is not entitled to it and limits to whom a certified copy of a death certificate containing the decedent’s social security number may be issued to in the first five years after the decedent’s date of death.

When someone applies for a death record of an individual who has died in the last five years in Ohio, they must prove that they are on the approved list of people who may have the death record with the social security number visible on it. If they cannot prove it, the health department will sell them the certified copy of the record with the social security number redacted. If the client comes back within a year with the proper proof, the health department will exchange the copy for one with the social security number visible.

The following is a list of people who may purchase a decedent’s death certificate with the social security number visible:

  • spouse or legal partner;
  • natural or adopted child;
  • natural or adopted grandchild;
  • genealogy researcher (lineal descendants only);
  • Veteran’s Administration officer;
  • local, state or federal law enforcement official or agency;
  • funeral director or authorized representative;
  • journalist or media representative;
  • executor or administrator of decedent’s estate;
  • attorney representing executor or administrator;
  • agent with power of attorney;
  • adult representative or successor with written authorization by the decedent; or
  • any person authorized by law to act on behalf of the decedent or the decedent’s estate.

Along with a photo identification, the acceptable forms of identification to prove eligibility to receive a death certificate with the social security number visible are:

  • marriage license of spouse or legal partner;
  • decedent’s death certificate designating the name of the surviving spouse;
  • birth record of natural or adopted child or verification in IPHS;
  • most recent income tax return (1040);
  • joint bank/financial account documentation;
  • will or legal document issued through a United States court of law that verifies ancestry;
  • medical or life insurance policy listing relationship to the decedent;
  • baptismal record of lineal descendents;
  • notarized affidavit of relationship;
  • employee identification badge;
  • written request on agency letterhead signed by an official requesting the visibility of the social security number;
  • written authorization executed by the decedent that permits the representative to act on his or her behalf; or
  • any legal document issued through a United States court of law authorizing any person to act on behalf of the decedent or the decedent’s estate.

If a spouse is listed on the death certificate, he or she will only need to present their photo identification. If children of a decedent were born in Ohio, all local offices are able to look up their birth record on the vital stat database to verify the decedent was their parent. This removes the need for them to bring their birth certificate into the office, but they still need photo identification.

The funeral director handling the arrangements for a family member who passes away in Ohio may purchase as many death records as family members need without proving to the local health department who they are for.

For more information about the new Ohio law, call the Madison County/London City Health District at (740) 852-3065, ext. 1527.

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