Disability Analysis File Restricted Access File

Please see the DAF PUF page for details on the public use version of this file.

Disclaimer: The Disability Analysis File is comprised of SSA administrative records. Access to this data is strictly controlled and restricted to SSA employees, contractors, and other agencies and organizations with formal agreements with us. There is currently no routine process in place to give DAF access to other researchers, though we are currently examining whether such access may be possible in the future. Please send inquiries regarding DAF data to ORDES.DAF@ssa.gov.

DAF Overview
Descriptive Statistics from the Disability Analysis File
DAF Files
DAF Data Marts
DAF Extracts
DAF Changes
DAF Main Documentation and File Locations
DAF Code Library
DAF Research Solutions
Tips for How to Efficiently Use the DAF Data Documentation

New to the DAF? Check out our new Quick Start Guide to get started!

DAF Overview

The Disability Analysis File (DAF) is an analytical file consisting of agency administrative data in an easy-to-use format. We create a new version of the file and documentation each year. The file contains historical, longitudinal, and one-time data on all child and adult beneficiaries with disabilities who were below retirement age and who participated in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs at any time between 1996 and the year of the file. Each DAF is an updated version of all prior DAF files, so users should use the most recent file available. All files are stored on the agency mainframe in SAS format.

There are several data marts and extracts available as well. These are generally small enough for use on servers or PC computers.

We build the DAF by extracting and combining data from various administrative data sources including:

  • Supplemental Security Income Record,
  • Master Beneficiary Record,
  • Disability Determination Service Processing File (also known as the 831/832),
  • Master Files of Social Security Number (SSN) Holders and SSN Applications (NUMIDENT) file,
  • Completed Determination Record – Continuing Disability Determinations (also known as the Disability Control File (DCF)),
  • Earnings Recording and Self-Employment Income System (also known as the Master Earnings File (MEF)), and
  • Various payment data files maintained by the agency.

Under the DAF, we combine data from these various administrative sources into a single record per beneficiary.

The DAF includes three main types of variables: one-time variables, "n" variables, and monthly historical variables. One-time variables include data such as SSN, date of birth, or Date of Initial Entitlement (DOEI). These variables reflect the latest information shown in the SSA administrative file used. Many of these variables, such as DOEI, will show dates going back several decades. Since the DAF includes all beneficiaries who received benefits in any one month since 1996, many beneficiaries included in the DAF started benefits well before 1996.

Like one-time variables, "n" variables reflect the latest information shown in the SSA administrative file used and can show dates going back several decades, but unlike one-time variables, "n" variables can show multiple occurrences. Assuming Var is the root variable name, Var1 will be the first occurrence, Var2 the second, and so on. Most "n" variables will have a value variable (e.g. status for occurrence n) combined with a corresponding date variable for that occurrence. So, for example, RFCn (reason code for continuance/cessation) can have up to 16 occurrences, one for each continuing disability review, and RFC1 will align with DD1, RFC2 with DD2, etc., with each DDn showing the Medical Continuing Disability Review Date associated with the corresponding "n" decision code.

Monthly historical variables include such items as State of residence, impairment codes, and benefit payment status and amounts and show month-to-month variation for such variables, each ending in yymm to indicate the year and month for the value. Many monthly historical variables in the DAF have data spanning from January 1994 to December of the year of the file. Some variables have shorter time ranges, but none is earlier than January 1994.

You can find the DAF data documentation, descriptions and locations of the data files, and information on data marts and extracts for the most recent version of the file below. If you have used older versions of the DAF documentation, you should still use the most recent version of the documentation provided here. This version provides the most up-to-date information on the DAF and identifies any variables that have changed since we constructed earlier versions of the data. Volume 4 provides additional information on how variables in the DAF have changed over time. If you have questions about the DAF or need access to older versions of the data or documentation, please contact ^ORDES DAF.

Descriptive Statistics from the Disability Analysis File

The following report provides key descriptive statistics from the 2015 DAF. It examines the work activity, employment expectations and characteristics, employment services, and factors affecting employment of working-age adult Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. It focuses on longitudinal analyses with timeframes spanning periods before and after disability award.

DI & SSI Program Participants: Characteristics & Employment, 2015

March 2020

DAF Files
The following files comprise the DAF21. We describe the files in more detail in the documentation below.

  • DAF Demographic File. This file contains a snapshot of what each beneficiary's administrative record looks like as of December 2021. It includes demographics such as date of birth and gender; current status, which could be active, suspended, or terminated; as well as summary information such as when the last period of eligibility began.
  • Annual Files for 1994-2021. These files contain monthly benefit and work data from January 1994 through December 2021.
  • DAF Ticket to Work Beneficiary Participation Files. These files contain monthly data on TTW eligibility and participation.
  • DAF Ticket to Work Payment Files. These files contain information on payments to Employment Networks for Ticket participants under the Milestone-Outcome or Outcome-Only payment systems and payments to State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies under the traditional cost-reimbursement system.
  • DAF Linkable Master Earnings File (MEF). This file contains wage and self-employment earnings data from the Internal Revenue Service. These data are not available to contractors or grantees and so are stored separately from the other DAF files.
    The appendix of Volume 2 in the documentation below contains more information about the MEF linkable file.
  • DAF-RSA 911 Linkable File. This is a mini-DAF for Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) participants containing information for records from the DAF that match RSA records. The Department of Education implemented significant changes to the RSA-911 file in July of 2017. Because of the change, DAF-RSA 911 Linkable File includes two files: one for those in RSA records through June 2017, and a second file for new records from July 2017 - December 2021. The appendix of Volume 2 in the documentation below contains more information about the RSA linkable file. Use of this data requires authorization from RSA through a simple project approval process. Contact ^ORDES DAF for information on requesting approval to use these data.
  • Local Economic Data from the LAUS and SAIPE. Beginning in the DAF12, SAS formats containing data from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) are available for linking to the DAF. These formats contain county-level annual unemployment rates from the LAUS, and county-level monthly poverty rates and median income from the SAIPE. Because data from the LAUS and SAIPE are geography-specific and not person-level, we have stored this information as SAS formats rather than individual-level variables. You can find more information on these economic data and how to access the SAS formats in Volume 2 of the DAF documentation.

DAF Data Marts
The following data marts are available for the DAF21:

  • DAF21 10% Data Mart is a 10 percent random sample of the DAF, including all of the information from the core components described above. You can use the 10% data mart to test programs before running on the complete DAF or for analyses where smaller sample sizes are acceptable. A detailed description of the 10% Data Mart is in Volume 2.
  • The Awardee Data Mart (ADM) supports cohort analyses for the SSDI and SSI disability programs. It contains beneficiaries who received their first SSI or SSDI payment as an adult between 1996 and the end of the last year covered by the current DAF and includes all DAF demographic file variables for those beneficiaries as well as payment- and eligibility-based award variables constructed for the purpose. Researchers interested in assessing trends in beneficiary cohorts or in following outcomes of beneficiaries from first benefit month onward may be interested in this file. A detailed description of the ADM is in Volume 2.

DAF Extracts
The following extracts are available for the DAF21:

  • The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) Extract is a mini version of the full DAF (Demographic, Annual, Ticket to Work Participation, Ticket to Work Payment, and RSA linkable files) that includes only respondents to one of SSA's six NBS surveys (NBS04, NBS05, NBS06, NBS10, NBS15, NBS17, and NBS19). See Volume 2 for more information about this extract.
  • The Ticket to Work Participant Extract is a mini version of the full DAF (Demographic, Annual, Ticket to Work Participation, Ticket to Work Payment, and RSA linkable files) that includes only participants in SSA's Ticket to Work program in 2006 or later. See Volume 2 for more information about this extract.

DAF Changes
Every year, the DAF undergoes revision in both structure and content based on user suggestions and the changing availability of data. We made the following changes in the DAF21:

We have enhanced the information we report on beneficiary’s geographic location. We have done this in two ways. First, we incorporated additional snapshot data on SSDI and SSI beneficiaries beyond what we use to select beneficiary records using a second pull from the Characteristics Extract Record (CER) and Disabled Beneficiaries and Dependents (DBAD) files. This allows us to populate more months with data from the source files than we had been able to do previously; see Volume 7, Chapter II for more details. Second, we incorporate nine-digit postal ZIP codes, which allow us to construct a more accurate county of residence measure than what we were able to do with five-digit ZIP codes. More information on this change and the new variables that result are contained in Volume 3, Section X. “Geographic Measures in the DAF.”

We expanded Section V.B. of Volume 3 to include more detail about how diagnosis codes for visual impairments relate to the BLINDDT variable used to flag statutory blindness.

We have incorporated new information on Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) from the Disability Control File (DCF) Medical Table. This information is contained in the standalone CDR file in the DAF and augments information on CDRs from other SSA source files. More information about the new variables is contained in Volume 2, Section VIII, “Using Information on Continuing Disability Reviews in the DAF,” as well as in Volume 4 and Volume 5.
We revised the standalone CDR file by combining five variables that indicated whether a decision was made at the initial, reconsideration, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Appeals Council (AC), and District Court (DC) level into a single new categorical variable (CDR_WFAL_Aln) that specifies the highest adjudicative level at which a determination was made.

We have added some new information with advice for users who work with the DAF measures of benefits suspended or terminated for work (STW). Specifically, we offer some additional considerations for how these measures function when beneficiaries receive both SSDI and SSI benefits. This new information can be found in Volume 3, Section VIII.B, “STW indicators.”

We have made a few other updates to the notes fields for variables in Volume 5 to enhance the user experience. Of particular note, we have added notes for the Current Pay Status By Year variables, SSDIyy and SSIyy, in the detail pages in Volume 5 to indicate how to use the measures in conjunction with age variables to select a sample of beneficiaries receiving federal disability benefits during the year. The current version of these measures include DI beneficiaries and SSI recipients who have transitioned to retirement benefits and so may capture beneficiaries too broadly for most researchers unless additional age restrictions are implemented by the user; we expect to refine our algorithm for constructing those measures in the next DAF cycle.

We incorporated new measures on termination from benefits as part of our annual validation activities to confirm that the DAF aligns well with other published statistics. This comparison is available in Tables VI.1, VI.2, and VI.3 of Volume 6.
We have updated the DAF Users' Code Library to allow users to more easily determine whether a beneficiary is no longer entitled to benefits as a result of work activity within a specified time period.” The new code complements the existing code in Section II of the DAF Users' Code Library that allows users to determine the number of months that benefits were suspended or terminated as a result of work activity within a specified time period.”

DAF Main Documentation and File Locations

The following files comprise the documentation for the main DAF20 files:

See the tips below for how to efficiently use the DAF data documentation.

File Locations for DAF21 Files, Data Marts, and Extracts. The dataset names (DSNs) of all DAF21 components and linkable files are provided in a file of filenames, a mainframe text file at the location below:


Or as a downloadable text file of filenames.

Some files (noted in the file of filenames) have copies stored on the agency mainframe. The copy name is identical to the original name except that the node DAF21P is DAF21C. Examples are included in the file of filenames.

DAF Code Library
To make the DAF more efficient and easier to use, we have developed SAS code for common analytical tasks run on DAF files. Researchers can use and modify this code as needed. The DAF21 Users' Code Library currently includes code to complete the following tasks:

  • How to Determine the Number of Months a Beneficiary Was Eligible for SSI or SSDI Benefits Within a Specific Time Period.
  • How to Categorize Impairment Codes into the Aggregated Impairment Families.
  • How to Determine the Number of Months Benefits Were Suspended or Terminated as a Result of Work Activity Within a Specified Time Period.
  • How to determine whether a beneficiary is no longer entitled to benefits as a result of work activity within a specified time period.
  • How to Reorder Variables Suffixed 1-N into a Chronological Order.

We expect the DAF Users' Code Library to grow over time, so please check back periodically.

DAF Research Solutions

These fact sheets illustrate how the DAF has been used to support research and answer questions about our disability beneficiary population.

DAF Research Solutions 1

This fact sheet describes how the DAF was useful in an analysis by Ben-Shalom and Stapleton (2012), who sought to better understand the long-term program participation and employment patterns of adult SSI recipients following benefit award.

Tips for How to Efficiently Use the DAF Data Documentation

Most users will only use volumes 1-5 of the DAF documentation.

  • Volume 1 and Volume 2 are primarily geared to new users and provide overview material on what the DAF is (Volume 1) and how to use it (Volume 2).
  • Volume 3 provides tips and tricks for using the DAF and also provides detailed information on the many constructed variables that simplify complex program information, such as the monthly composite suspense/termination variables (STW) and the benefits foregone for work variables (BFW).
  • Volume 4 and Volume 5 are reference volumes users will consult on choosing and using the variables in the DAF.

Volumes 6-12 deal primarily with the construction details of the DAF that will be of little use to most users.

DAF Data Documentation

In order to...
Refer to...
Get started with a research task

Volume 2, Working with the DAF21, for information about selecting beneficiaries using finder files versus selection criteria

Identify what's changed in the DAF Volume 1, "Getting Started with the DAF21" and Volume 4, "Lists of DAF21 Variables" for the list of new, revised and deleted variables in the current DAF.
View lists of DAF variables Volume 4,"Lists of DAF21 Variables"
Understand individual variable definitions,

specifications, and value ranges

Volume 5, "DAF21 Variable Detail Pages"
Understand the structure of the DAF data files at a high level

Volume 1, "Getting Started with the DAF21"

Identify variables for a specific research task Volume 4 , "Lists of DAF21 Variables," for a list of variables

contained within each DAF file and by analytic category

Understand the beneficiaries for which the DAF does and does not contain data Volume 1 , "Getting Started with the DAF21"
Identify our administrative data sources for the DAF Volume 9 , "DAF21 Source File Descriptions"
Generate ideas for using the DAF more efficiently Volume 1 , "Getting Started with the DAF21" and Volume 2, "Working with the DAF21"
Find suggested ways to identify common research concepts

in the DAF, such as calculating age of retirement, or disability title

Volume 3, "Tips for Conducting Analysis with the DAF21"
Understand what variables have changed in the most recent DAF Volume 4 , "Lists of DAF21 Variables"
Read about how information in the DAF is validated against other sources Volume 6 , "Validating the DAF21 Against Other Sources"