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
DAF Files
DAF Changes
DAF Main Documentation and File Locations
DAF Data Marts
DAF Extracts
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.

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 include 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. 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 DAF19. 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 2019. 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 1994-2019. These files contain monthly benefit and work data from January 1994 through December 2019.
  • 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 2019. 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 DAF19. We have outlined some of the major changes below.

  • After the first version of the DAF18 was released, we updated the construction of the MEDEXyymm variable. This variable indicates SSA’s expectation about the likelihood that a beneficiary’s medical condition improves. We changed our algorithm to account for an error that resulted in some valid values from the 831 file being overwritten with a missing values. Correcting this issue resulted in substantially more MEDEXyymm data being populated in the DAF, particularly in the years just after 2008, when the source data of MEDEXyymm changed. The nature of the error and result of the changes are described in Volume 3, Section VII and Volume 7, Section VI.
  • We have incorporated better information into the DAF on work-related and medical continuing disability reviews (CDRs), drawn from the Disability Control File and SSA’s Waterfall File. The DCF data provides information on CDRs for substantial gainful activity (SGA) not previously in the DAF. The Waterfall file is the most up-to-date, comprehensive source of medical CDR data available within SSA, with information on CDRs from higher adjudicative levels than previously available in the DAF. The information from both the DCF and Waterfall files is incorporated in a standalone file in DAF19 to allow for user review and comment before incorporating the measures fully into the DAF DMG component a future DAF iterations. A description of this file and its contents is contained in Volume 2, Section VIII.
  • We have updated selected geographic measures to propagate information across months in which the snapshot source data is missing, but we have reason to believe that the last available location of the beneficiary still applies. This approach has been incorporated in the existing FIPS_BESTyymm and PSTyymm measures, as well as in a new measure, ZIP_BESTyymm. These variables are in the Annuals files. More information about these measures and other geographic identifiers in the DAF is contained in a new section in Volume 3, called Section X. Geographic Measures in the DAF.
  • We have added information on citizenship status from the NUMIDENT (CITIZEN_NUM). This information enhances the citizenship information previously available in the DAF for SSI beneficiaries (now named CITIZEN_CER). The citizenship measures contain complementary information for SSI recipients and information for SSDI beneficiaries that was not previously available in the DAF. To learn more about these measures, consult Volume 3, Section X and their variable detail pages in Volume 5.
  • We have added information on Economic Recovery Payments in 2009 to SSDI beneficiaries resulting from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This information is contained in ERPSSDI_AMT and ERPSSDI_DATE, in the DMG component. It complements a similar measure already available for SSI recipients, now named ERPSSI_IND. More information about each of these measures can be found in their variable detail pages in Volume 5.
  • In consultation with SSA regarding the structure so the VRRMS data, we have refined the algorithm we use to combine multiple tables to create one record per beneficiary for VRRMS data from March 2017 onward. More information is available in Chapter IV.B in Volume 2. We have also renamed a few variables in the VRRMS file to minimize user confusion. These variables, along with their current and former names, are listed in Table I.1 DAF19 variable changes in Volume 4.
  • We have incorporated new data for the RSA-911 files from July 2017 onward to account for the record structure of RSA data since that time. As we noted for the DAF18, RSA made changes to the file in response to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. The changes to the RSA-911 data were substantial, including reorienting from a case closure file to one that includes all open cases, capturing data from a broader set of individuals, and with different data elements. The RSA-911 now also now tracks employment data for up to six quarters after exit. The RSA-911 data are now available on a quarterly basis, so the data included in the DAF now and going forward are calendar year data rather than fiscal year data as in the past. As such, the DAF now contains two versions of the RSA-911 files, one corresponding to the data before July 2017 and one for the period after the change was made. These changes are discussed in more detail in Volume 2. Additionally, we have added an additional volume to the documentation, Volume 12, which contains details about the processing of RSA data for the DAF and more information about the source files. Because the newer records are no longer closure records, multiple records per person are possible for a single period of VR services. As a result, we have adjusted the structure of the files for July 2017 onward to account for this change in the source data. More information is available in Chapter VII.A in Volume 2. We also renamed a few variables in the RSA files to reduce user confusion. These variables along with their current and former names, are listed in Table I.1 DAF19 variable changes in Volume 4.
  • We have modified the values on ENPAY_TYPE to reflect a consistent scheme across the years of data contained in the DAF, where all payments are classified as Milestone-Outcome (MO) or Outcome-Only. See the detail page for this variable in Volume 5.
  • We have substantially expanded our validation of the DAF to SSA published statistics. This enhancement resulted in many more comparisons to SSA’s SSDI and SSI Annual Reports than in past DAF versions. We present information on beneficiary counts and distributions based on country of birth, current geography, and earnings, along with more splits based on geographic subgroups. The new validation tables and a discussion of our interpretation of the DAF relative to SSA published reports are contained in Volume 6. In general, the DAF continues to align well with SSA published statistics, with few exceptions.

Users should also note two changes we made for the DAF18 that also apply to the DAF19:

  • Starting with the DAF18, we updated the construction of SSI earnings variables derived from the Supplemental Security Record (SSR). These earnings measures have a T16 prefix and are listed in Volume 3, Chapter IV.A. In DAF16, we had updated to source these measures from the DCF to the SSR. We did this because we had determined that the DCF was missing some earnings months and showed fewer workers with earnings than was shown in SSA published statistics. Our SSR earnings in the DAF now align with SSA published statistics. We provide more information in Volume 3, Chapter IV.A., and in the memo available here.
  • During our construction the DAF17, we discovered a processing error that was causing us to exclude measures of earnings and benefits due for some SSI beneficiaries. This error was present in all earlier versions of the DAF and its predecessor, the Ticket Research File (TRF). The error resulted from processing code that overwrote valid earnings values with zeros in some circumstances when there is overlapping information between sequential records in the Supplemental Security Record (SSR) source file. Because recipients who receive SSI longer are more likely to have multiple SSR records, the effect is larger for earlier years within any DAF file, as compared to recent data within that same file. The error also affected variables derived from earnings, again with larger effects for earlier years within a DAF file.
    The variables directly affected are EICMyymm, UINCyymm, FAMTyymm, SAMTyymm, and DUESyymm.
    The variables indirectly affected by the error because they were derived from the variables listed above are PROAyymm, PROByymm, CONCyymm, STWSSIyymm, STWCMyymm.
    The DAF19 fully corrects these errors. We provide details on this error, its correction, and the effect on DAF data here.

DAF Main Documentation and File Locations

The following files comprise the documentation for the main DAF19 files:

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

File Locations for DAF19 Files, Data Marts, and Extracts. The dataset names (DSNs) of all DAF19 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 DAF19P is DAF19C. Examples are included in the file of filenames.

DAF Data Marts
The following data marts are available for the DAF19:

  • DAF19 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 DAF19:

  • 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 and NBS17). 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.

  • 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.

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

Volume 2, Working with the DAF19, for information about selecting beneficiaries using finder files versus selection criteria

Identify what's changed in the DAF Volume 1, "Getting Started with the DAF19" and Volume 4, "Lists of DAF19 Variables" for the list of new, revised and deleted variables in the current DAF.
View lists of DAF variables Volume 4,"Lists of DAF19 Variables"
Understand individual variable definitions,

specifications, and value ranges

Volume 5, "DAF19 Variable Detail Pages"
Understand the structure of the DAF data files at a high level

Volume 1, "Getting Started with the DAF19"

Identify variables for a specific research task Volume 4 , "Lists of DAF19 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 DAF19"
Identify our administrative data sources for the DAF Volume 9 , "DAF19 Source File Descriptions"
Generate ideas for using the DAF more efficiently Volume 1 , "Getting Started with the DAF19" and Volume 2, "Working with the DAF19"
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 DAF19"
Understand what variables have changed in the most recent DAF Volume 4 , "Lists of DAF19 Variables"
Read about how information in the DAF is validated against other sources Volume 6 , "Validating the DAF19 Against Other Sources"