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. Inquiries regarding DAF data can be sent to ORDES.DAF@ssa.gov.

Notice: A DAF public use file is now available. See the DAF PUF page for details.

DAF Overview
DAF Files
DAF Changes
DAF Main Documentation and File Locations
DAF Data Marts
DAF Extracts
DAF Code Library
DAF Research Solutions

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 beneficiaries with disabilities who were between age 18 and 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.  This file also includes data on all SSI child beneficiaries who participated in the SSI program at any point from January 2005 through 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.

Many 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.  Historical variables include such items as State of residence, impairment codes, and benefit payments, while one-time variables include data such as SSN and date of birth.  Under the DAF, we combine data from these various administrative sources into a single record per beneficiary.

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. If you have questions about the DAF or need access to older versions of the data or documentation, please contact ^ORDES DAF.

DAF Files
The following files comprise the DAF16. 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 2016.  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 1994-2016. These files contain monthly benefit and work data from January 1994 through December 2016.
  • 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. It also includes a version of the original RSA data files provided by the Department of Education. 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 Changes
We made a number of improvements to the DAF data and documentation in the DAF16. We have outlined some of the major changes below. See the DAF16 Documentation Updates Memo for details about all of the changes to the DAF documentation.

  • We have dropped the Non-Enrolled Annual files from the DAF. These files tracked data for beneficiaries in years that they were not receiving benefits. These files contained only missing data, so we have omitted them to make the file size of the DAF more manageable. See Volume 1 for more information.
  • We have added children under age 10 who received SSI benefits in at least one month between January 2005 and December 2016 to the DAF. Previous versions of the DAF only included beneficiaries age 10 or older who participated in SSI since 2005. The DAF16 includes all beneficiaries ages 0 to 18 who received SSI benefits at any time between 2005 and 2016. See Volume 1 for  more information.
  • We have switched to using the SSR instead of the DCF for SSI income and related exclusions, but left the variable names unchanged. The SSR is the source of the DCF data. We discovered in 2017 that SSR income and exclusion data were not populating to the DCF for a small number of cases. Using the data directly from the SSR corrects this problem. We describe this change in more detail in Volume 3.
  • By changing to the SSR for the source of SSI income and related exclusions, we were able to obtain a measure of blind work expenses separated from impairment-related work expenses, as well as self-employment income separated from the net loss from self-employment. We were also able to add the student earned income exclusion and the student indicator. See Volume 3 for more information about these new DAF variables.
  • We updated all tables in Chapters II and III of Volume 4 to include more detailed information about the DAF component where each variable can be found. For example, we now show “Payment Horizontal” and “Payment Vertical” rather than “Payment” and “Ticket Annual” and “Ticket Base” rather than “Ticket.”
  • We simplified the individual variable information in Volume 5 to provide more information in a compact form. This applied to the “Data For,” “Data Sources,” “Time Period,” and “Program Name” fields for all 788 variables.

DAF Main Documentation and File Locations

The following files comprise the documentation for the main DAF16 files:

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

File Locations for DAF16 Files, Data Marts, and Extracts. The dataset names (DSNs) of all DAF16 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 “DAF16P” is “DAF16C.” Examples are included in the file of filenames, and we urge regular DAF users to check the file of filenames periodically to see if we have updated any of the files they are using.

 DAF Data Marts
The following data marts are available for the DAF16:

  • DAF16 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 DAF16:

  • 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 five NBS surveys (NBS04, NBS05, NBS06, NBS10, and NBS15). See Volume 2 for more information about this extract.
  • The SSA Survey and Demonstration Projects 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 beneficiaries in the Benefits Entitlement Services Team (BEST) Demonstration, the National Survey of Children and Families (NSCF), and the Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD). The extract contains variables indicating the sample(s) the beneficiary is from. These variables are BEST_FLAG, NSCF_FLAG, and YTD_FLAG. 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 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 DAF Users' Code Library currently includes code to complete the following tasks:

  • Determine whether a beneficiary was eligible for SSDI or SSI within a user-specified time period;
  • Categorize impairment codes into the groupings used in our published statistics;
  • Determine whether we have suspended or terminated a beneficiary due to work within a user-specified time period; and
  • 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. 

  • Volumes 1 and 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). 
  • Volumes 4 and 5 are reference volumes users will consult on choosing and using the variables in the DAF. 

Volumes 6-11 deal primarily with the construction details of the DAF that will be of little use to most users.

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

Volume 2, "Working with the DAF16," for information about selecting beneficiaries using finder files versus selection criteria"

Identify what's changed in the DAF15 Volume 1,“ Getting Started with the DAF16”
View lists of DAF variables Volume 4,“Lists of DAF16 Variables”
Understand individual variable definitions,

specifications, and value ranges

Volume 5, “DAF16 Variable Detail Pages”
Understand the structure of the DAF data files at a high level

Volume 1,“ Getting Started with the DAF16”

Identify variables for a specific research task Volume 4 , “Lists of DAF16 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 DAF16”
Identify our administrative data sources for the DAF Volume 9 , “DAF16 Source File Descriptions”
Generate ideas for using the DAF more efficiently Volume 1 , “Getting Started with the DAF16" and Volume 2, “Working with the DAF15”
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 DAF16”
Understand what variables have changed in the most recent DAF Volume 4 ,“Lists of DAF16 Variables”
Read about how information in the DAF is validated against other sources Volume 6 , “Validating the DAF16 Against Other Sources“