Welcome to the National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) participant web site.  Through the NBS, we gather information about the health and well-being of people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Your input will help make our programs better.  Your participation will benefit not only yourself, but also other beneficiaries.  Your help is critical to the survey’s success and we greatly appreciate your assistance.

If you have questions about your participation in this survey or how we conduct the survey, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.  For more detailed information on the NBS and its history please see the NBS page.


Frequently Asked Questions

About the National Beneficiary Survey

1. What is the National Beneficiary Survey?

The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) is a survey conducted by the Social Security Administration. Through the NBS, we gather information about people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It tells us about their health and well-being, the health and employment services they use, their experiences with Social Security programs, their employment goals, their education and other information that is not available elsewhere. The study will help us learn how well our programs meet your needs and the needs of people like you. The information you provide will give us a better understanding of the characteristics of SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients. We are conducting the NBS for policy and research purposes and we use the information to assess how well our programs work and to respond to questions from Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

To learn more about the NBS, please see the NBS page.

2. Who is responsible for conducting the survey?

We hired Mathematica Policy Research to conduct the interviews and process the data.

3. Why does the government collect statistics on the individuals who receive disability benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are among the largest programs that the Federal government runs. It is important for policymakers to have a complete picture of the individuals who receive disability benefits so we can base our policies on accurate information. We combine your answers with answers of others who participate to produce important statistical information about SSI recipients and SSDI beneficiaries. We use the combined answers to the questions in the NBS to provide a portrait of SSI recipients and SSDI beneficiaries with information that we do not have in our files. The statistics tell Congress and us about your health and well-being, the health and employment services you use, your experience with Social Security programs, your employment goals, and your education.

For example, information from the NBS can answer questions about the people who receive SSDI and SSI disability benefits, such as:

  • How many completed high school?
  • How many have young children?
  • How many have limitations in daily activities, such as climbing stairs?
  • How many are interested in working?
  • How many receive accommodations from their employer, if they work?

What to Expect

4. What should I expect if I participate?

  • When we selected you to participate in the National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) you received a letter from us requesting that you participate.  The letter explains the purpose and importance of the survey and the importance we place on keeping all your personal information confidential.
  • About a week after you receive the letter asking you to participate, someone from Mathematica Policy Research will call to speak with you. If you want to set up a time to talk now or need help to take part in the survey, please call Mathematica Policy Research at 1-877-293-5740 (toll-free) or send an email to nbshelp@mathematica-mpr.com.
  • If you need special assistance, Mathematica Policy Research will interview you in person or you can use Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), Video Relay Service (VRS), amplifiers, and instant messaging.
  • We will ask you some questions to verify that you are eligible for the survey. If you are eligible for the survey and complete an interview, Mathematica will send you a $30 gift card!

5. How long will the survey take?

The average interview for the National Beneficiary Survey takes about 60 minutes.

6. Am I required to participate in the survey?

No.  Your participation in the National Beneficiary Survey is voluntary and you may refuse to answer any questions you do not want to answer.  If you decide not to participate, it will not affect your benefits in any way. However, we strongly encourage you to participate.  Although taking part is your choice, your input will help make our programs better.  Your participation will benefit not only yourself, but also other beneficiaries.  Your answers represent others like you all across the country, so your taking part is very important to the success of the survey.  We will use the answers you provide for policy and research only.  We will not share your answers in a way that reveals who you are.  We will not use your information to make decisions about your disability benefits. If you do not want to participate, please call Mathematica Policy Research at 1-877-293-5740 (toll-free).

7. How will I complete the interview?

We have hired Mathematica Policy Research to do the interviews.  An employee of Mathematica Policy Research will interview you over the telephone or at your home.  If you want to set up a time to talk now or need help to take part in the survey, please call Mathematica at 1-877-293-5740 (toll-free) or send an email to nbshelp@mathematica-mpr.com.

8. What kinds of questions will you ask me?

We will ask you questions about your health and well-being, the health and employment services you use, your experience with Social Security programs, your employment goals, and your education.  All information that we collect is strictly confidential and we do not report it in any way that identifies survey respondents.  We will not use your information to make decisions about your disability benefits.

For example, information from the National Beneficiary Survey can answer questions about the people who receive disability benefits from us such as:

  • How many completed high school?
  • How many have young children?
  • How many have limitations in daily activities, such as climbing stairs?
  • How many are interested in working?
  • How many receive accommodations from their employer, if they work?

9. If I think a question is too personal, do I have to answer it?

No.  You do not need to answer a question that you feel is too personal.  However, answering all of the questions does help us to obtain a more complete picture of individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. All information that we collect is strictly confidential and we do not report it in any way that identifies survey respondents.

10. How did you select me to be in the survey?

We selected you from a list of all individuals who receive disability benefits from us.  We selected you randomly from the list, similar to a lottery.  You represent individuals who receive disability benefits from us and we cannot replace you with someone else.  Your participation in the survey is very important.  Your help is critical to the survey’s success and we greatly appreciate your assistance.

11. I’m not available right now. Can someone else answer instead?

No.  We can schedule a time for the interview that is convenient for you.  Your answers represent others like you all across the country, so taking part is very important to the success of the survey.  If you want to set up a time to talk now or need help to take part in the survey, please call Mathematica Policy Research at 1-877-293-5740 (toll-free) or send an email to nbshelp@mathematica-mpr.com.

12. I’m unable to respond to the survey due to a disability. Can someone else respond for me?

Your answers represent others like you all across the country, so it is important to respond to the survey. If you need special assistance Mathematica Policy Research can interview you in person or you can use Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), Video Relay Service (VRS), amplifiers, and instant messaging. If your disability prevents you from being able to respond, we can conduct the interview with a close family member or other representative. Please have a representative call Mathematica Policy Research at 1-877-293-5740 (toll-free) or send an email to nbshelp@mathematica-mpr.com

13. Can I contact someone to discuss my concerns before completing the survey?

Yes.  If you would like to discuss any concerns or ask additional questions about the survey, please call Mathematica Policy Research’s toll-free National Beneficiary Survey help desk at 1-877-293-5740 or send an email to nbshelp@mathematica-mpr.com.  You can also contact our NBS mailbox at NBS@ssa.gov.

Privacy and Security

14. Will you keep my responses and personal information private, and how will you protect my data?

Yes.  We take protecting your privacy and confidentiality very seriously.  We use the information we collect about you for statistical and research purposes only.  In all of our study reports, we publish summaries of the answers.  We will never use your name in a study report, and we will never share your personal facts or contact information with anyone else.

Federal law requires us to protect your data.  We store all study information in secure facilities on locked systems and destroy personal data after the study is complete.  All employees of Mathematica Policy Research who conduct the interviews or summarize the responses to the questions must pass a security clearance before they begin work on the survey and interview beneficiaries.  They sign an agreement to safeguard your information and follow the government’s relevant privacy policies.  Any of our staff or any Mathematica employee who violates these Federal laws faces disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.

15. How do I know if the interviewer is legitimate and/or from Mathematica Policy Research?

Our contractor, Mathematica Policy Research, conducts NBS interviews only over the phone or in-person. If you are concerned about the legitimacy of the study or the interviewer, please hang up and call Mathematica Policy Research’s toll-free number at 1-877-293-5740 to speak with a supervisor, verify the interviewer, and/or complete the interview over the phone.

We require all in-person interviewers to show a Mathematica Policy Research badge that displays a color photograph of the interviewer, the name of the survey, and the toll-free National Beneficiary Survey help desk number 1-877-293-5740.

How the Data from the National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) is Used

16. Who will use this information?

We combine your answers with those of other survey participants to produce important statistical information about our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries.  Government policymakers, legislators, administrators, and researchers use the data from the National Beneficiary Survey to provide a portrait of who receives disability benefits and for planning and evaluating Social Security policy and programs.

17. How will you use my data?

The National Beneficiary Survey (NBS) results provide estimates for the nation as a whole to obtain accurate information about individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.  Government policymakers, legislators, administrators, and researchers use the data from the NBS for policy and research purposes. Answers to the survey questions will help us learn how well our programs meet your needs and the needs of people like you.  The information you provide will give us a better understanding of the characteristics of SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients.  We use the information to assess how well our programs work and to respond to questions from Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  We release the answers to the questions in the NBS survey in research reports and summaries for Congress and the general public.  Please see the NBS page for more information about the reports.  Please see 2010 National Beneficiary Survey: Methodology and Descriptive Statistics for the answers from the 2010 NBS.

We will not use your information to make decisions about your disability benefits.

Thank You $30 Gift Card

18. Will the $30 gift card Thank You affect my benefits?

No.  The following is a summary of our rules for gift cards.

We consider the $30 gift card unearned income because it is only received once and it is under the $60 threshold used to calculate the benefits of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.  The $30 incentive payment is unearned income that falls under the “Infrequent or Irregular Income Exclusion” (POMS: SI 00810.410).  This exclusion applies to income that you receive infrequently or irregularly and is less than the first $30 per month for earned income and/or the first $60 per calendar quarter for unearned income.  Since these payments are unearned income under the $60 threshold and received once, they are wholly excluded in calculating the benefits of SSI recipients. 

19. When will I receive my $30 gift card?

You should receive the gift card within 2 weeks of completing your interview.  If you do not receive your gift card on time, please call Mathematica Policy Research’s toll-free National Beneficiary Survey help desk at 1-877-293-5740.

20. Does everyone receive a $30 gift card?

Everyone who completes a survey will receive a $30 gift card.  However, some people may not be eligible for the survey and will therefore not be eligible for the gift card.  We will ask you a few questions to determine if you are eligible for the survey.  If you have questions or want to find out if you are eligible, please call Mathematica Policy Research’s toll-free National Beneficiary Survey help desk at 1-877-293-5740.

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