Use of Social Security Administration Data for Research Purposes

Article excerpt

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains information about Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries and applicants for Social Security numbers in its administrative master files. Use of these data for research purposes outside of SSA has previously been restricted to a limited number of federal agencies. SSA recently published a Privacy Act notice in the Federal Register to allow SSA to share certain microdata from these master files for research purposes with any federal or state agency that meets strict criteria. This new routine use will permit the development of richer and more comprehensive information that can be used in actuarial, epidemiological, economic, and other social science research projects. It became effective on April 13, 2004.

Types of Data Available

Information may be released under the new routine use from the following administrative files:

* Completed Determination Record-Continuing Disability Determinations, 60-0050. This system contains a record for every beneficiary who has ever filed for or received a Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability benefit. This system contains the date of birth, the date the disability began, the type of claim, the reason for disability, the reason for continuance or cessation of benefits, and the date of disability termination (if any).

* Master Files of Social Security Number Holders and Applications, 60-0058. This system contains a record of each individual who has applied for and obtained a Social Security number (SSN). This system contains all of the information received on the original applications for SSNs (that is, name, date and place of birth, sex, both parents' names, and race and ethnic data) and any changes in the information on the applications that are submitted by the SSN holders.

* Master Beneficiary Record, 60-0090. The Master Beneficiary Record contains information about each claimant who has applied for retirement, survivors, or disability benefits or who is to be enrolled in the Hospital Insurance or Supplementary Medical Insurance program. This system contains the primary insurance amount, information on the insured status of the SSN holder, and data relating to the computation of benefits (military service credits, railroad retirement credits, or coverage credits earned under the Social Security system of a foreign country when the claim is based on a totalization agreement). It also includes personal information (name, date of birth, sex, date of death, date of filing, relationship to the SSN holder, entitlement to benefits on another SSN, benefit amount, and payment status) and, if applicable, information about a representative payee, disability entitlement, workers' compensation offset data, estimates and reports of earnings, or student entitlement.

* Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits, 60-0103. This file contains data about Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility and payments. Monthly SSI benefits are paid to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or aged 65 or older. …