with the administering agency (Hu et al., 1997). Some examples of the administrative files that can be used are
The Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) is the main file administrating Social Security retirement and disability insurance payments. It contains the data to administer the SSDI benefit program. The MBR record is initiated once the initial decision is made to award benefits, and entitlement and payment data are stored in the file.
The Supplemental Security Record (SSR) is the main file for administering the SSI program. It provides the data needed to generate federally administered SSI benefit checks. SSA establishes and updates the SSR through local field office and teleservice site transactions, usually establishing the record as soon as a person files for SSI. The file stores eligibility and payment information.
The Master Earnings File (MEF) contains earnings records for calendar years since 1951 and contains approximately 400 million records. Since 1977, the MEF has been derived primarily from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2 data. MEF data are used for computing SSDI benefits. In addition to the MEF, the SSR is a source of earnings data from SSI applications.
The 831 Disability file is related to both SSDI and SSI. When a person applies for disability benefits from either program, a medical determination is required. Medical decisions are made by the Disability Determination Services, reported to SSA’s Office of Disability (OD), and recorded in the National Disability Determination Services System. The 831 Disability file is extracted regularly from this system for research purposes. The 831 Disability file may contain data from decisions made at several levels of adjudication that represent ever-higher levels of appeal. Most records in the 831 files pertain to only two levels: (1) the initial medical determination; and (2) the reconsideration decision (i.e., the first level of appeal for medical denials). Decisions made as a result of SSA’s Continuing Disability Review process are recorded on OD’s 832 and 833 Disability files. The unit of observation in the 831 Disability file is a disability decision; the main data elements capture the primary impairment code, the regulation basis code (used to measure the severity of the impairment), the date of decision, the level of decision, and the result of the decision.
In addition to the master files, the Continuous Work History Sample (CWHS) file is a 1 percent continuous work history sample from 1937—when payroll tax was first levied—until the present. The intent of the sample is to measure the working trends and employment of the population in relation to the Old-Age, Survivors, and