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  Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) - Death File

Record Type



Veterans Administration (VA)

Title Acronym


Source URL


The Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) database containing records of all beneficiaries, including veterans whose survivors applied for death benefits. In addition to these applications for VA benefits, sources of data include veterans discharged form the military service since March 1973, Medal of Honor recipients, and service members with accounts for VA education benefits. An extract of the BIRLS database, which can be accessed by the VHA research community with appropriate access rights privileges, is the BIRLS Death File. This file contains information on veterans known to be deceased. The file and can be linked to other files by the veteran's real or scrambled (VHA encrypted) social security number. A weekly match process with the Social Security Administration Death Master File or a notification from a hospital, cemetery, or relative/acquaintance identifies a veteran's death to be added to the file . Each January, starting in 2004, this file is refreshed with a baseline file from the VBA to ensure data accuracy by removal of records that may have populated the file inadverteantly.

MEDLINE Search Strategy


Databases; Death Certificates; Management Information Systems; Medical Records Systems; Computerized; Patient Identification Systems; United States Department of Veterans Affairs


US Veterans

Record Originator

Sheps Center, UNC-CH


Using the BIRLS Death File and other VA data maintained at the Austin Automation Center (AAC) requires a Time Sharing Option (TSO) user account on the AAC mainframe computer with permission to utilize the particular dataset(s) needed. User accounts are assigned and monitored by the Automated Customer Registration System (ACRS - pronounced "akers"). For complete information and instructions, see the VIReC Toolkit for Users of VA Data Web information on Requesting Access to VA Data.

Special Software

SAS file


Social Security Number, Name, Date of Death, Cause of Death, Branch of Service



Date Revised

Nov. 29, 2017, 5:18 a.m.