Beneficiary, Family, and Household Surveys, Records and Extracts System (Statistics), SSA/ORES

Effective Date: March 11, 2004 
(69 F.R. 11693)


System number: 60-0211

System name:  

Beneficiary, Family, and Household Surveys, Records and Extracts System (Statistics), SSA/ORES

Security classification: 


System location: 

Social Security Administration 
Office of Research, Evaluation and Statistics 
6401 Security Boulevard 
Baltimore, Maryland 21235
Bureau of the Census 
Washington, D.C.  20857
National Institutes of Health 
9000 Rockville Pike 
Bethesda, MD  20205    
Health Care Financing Administration 
Data Center 
Lyons Building 
731 Rutherford Drive 
Baltimore, MD  21207

Records also may be maintained at contractor sites (contact the system manager at the address below to obtain contractor addresses).

Categories of individuals covered by the system: 

Samples of individuals living in the United States and households presently or potentially receiving benefits from SSA or other related Federal/State programs, and other comparison individuals and households.

Categories of records in the system: 

Basic demographic characteristics; marital and child care histories; medical and disability information (e.g., Medicare bills and expenditures information); information which relates to ability to work; living conditions; earnings and employment history; financial assets and liabilities; real and personal property; benefit and pension information; use of medical and rehabilitative services; and participation in SSA and related Federal/State welfare programs.

Authority for maintenance of the system: 

Section 1110 and 1875 of the Social Security Act and 13 U.S.C. § 183.


This system will enable ORES to collect, compile and analyze data about families and households from surveys and record extracts, and to participate in the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation. 

Data collected through SSA surveys in their developmental and operational phases will be used within ORES for program planning and evaluation purposes, subject to applicable restrictions of 13 U.S.C. § 182 regarding data supplied by the Bureau of the Census and 26 U.S.C. § 6103(p)(4) regarding Federal tax return information.

Medicare payment information will be linked to these data from HCFA records.  The linked data without identifiers will be used for research and evaluation purposes by SSA and other SSA components.  Specially edited files are available to researchers in other government agencies and to the public for analysis of retirement age and disability issues.

In compliance with section 6103 of the IRC, no tax return information contained in the system will be disclosed by SSA to contractors or other agencies without the express approval of IRS. Data from this system will provide SSA with:  (1) reliable estimates of future outlays under various program alternatives; (2) a base for validation of other data sources currently used in policy analysis; and (3) an evaluation of the RSDI programs.

Records in this system are used to prepare special tabulations on request.  Selected microdata files are specially prepared for release to the public.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories of users and the purposes of such uses: 

Disclosure may be made for routine uses as indicated below:

1.      To a contractor under contract with SSA or another agency for the performance of research and statistical activities directly related to the purpose served by this system of records.

2.      To another government agency (such as the Bureau of the Census) serving as a data source, collecting agent, or data processor for SSA in connection with research and statistical activities directly related to the purpose served by this system of records.

3.      Non-tax return information which is not restricted from disclosure by Federal law may be disclosed to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for the purpose of conducting records management studies with respect to their duties and responsibilities under 44 U.S.C. § 2904 and § 2906, as amended by NARA Act of 1984.

4.      Disclosure may be made to a Federal, State, or congressional support agency (e.g.,  Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Staff in the Library of Congress) for research, evaluation, or statistical studies.  Such disclosures include, but are not limited to, release of information in assessing the extent to which one can predict eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits; examining the distribution of Social Security benefits by economic and demographic groups and how these differences might be affected by possible changes in policy; analyzing the interaction of economic and non-economic variables affecting entry and exit events and duration in the Title II Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and the Title XVI SSI disability programs; and analyzing retirement decisions focusing on the role of Social Security benefit amounts, automatic benefit recomputation, the delayed retirement credit, and the retirement test, if SSA:

a.      Determines that the routine use does not violate legal limitations under which the record was provided, collected, or obtained;

b.      Determines that the purpose for which the proposed use is to be made:

(i)                 Cannot reasonably be accomplished unless the record is provided in a form that identifies individuals;

(ii)               Is of sufficient importance to warrant the effect on, or risk to, the privacy of the individual which such limited additional exposure of the record might bring;

(iii)             There is reasonable probability that the objective of the use would be accomplished;

(iv)             Is of importance to the Social Security program or the Social Security beneficiaries or is for an epidemiological research project that relates to the Social Security program or beneficiaries;

c.      Requires the recipient of information to:

(i)                 Establish appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent unauthorized use or disclosure of the record and agree to on-site inspection by SSA’s personnel, its agents, or by independent agents of the recipient agency of those safeguards;

(ii)               Remove or destroy the information that enables the individual to be identified at the earliest time at which removal or destruction can be accomplished consistent with the purpose of the project, unless the recipient receives written authorization from SSA that it is justified, based on research objectives, for retaining such information;

(iii)             Make no further use of the records except:

(a)   Under emergency circumstances affecting the health and safety of any   individual following written authorization from SSA;

(b)   For disclosure to an identified person approved by SSA for the purpose of auditing the research project;

(iv)             Keep the data as a system of statistical records.  A statistical record is one which is maintained only for statistical and research purposes and which is not used to make any determination about an individual;

d.    Secures a written statement by the recipient of the information attesting to the recipient’s understanding of, and willingness to abide by, these provisions.

        5.  We may disclose information to appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, entities, and persons when (1) we suspect or confirm that the security or confidentiality of information in this system of records has been compromised; (2) we determine that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this system or other systems or programs of SSA that rely upon the compromised information; and (3) we determine that disclosing the information to such agencies, entities, and persons is necessary to assist in our efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm. SSA will use this routine use to respond only to those incidents involving an unintentional release of its records.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining, and disposing of records in the system:


Records may be stored on hardcopy forms, discs or magnetic tapes.


Records are indexed by SSN during the matching steps.  After matching is completed, microdata files used for research and analysis are purged of personal identifiers.


Safeguards have been established in accordance with the Systems Security Handbook.  Standards established by the Bureau of the Census under title 13 U.S.C.; and in accordance with 26 U.S.C. § 6103(p)(4), which provide for protection of Federal tax return information, principally earnings records. 

These safeguards include maintaining the data in an enclosure attended by security guards and using locked files and passwords. Only authorized personnel who have a need for the data in the performance of their official duties and have the appropriate identification and clearance will be permitted in areas containing records. Access to microdata files with identifiers is limited to researchers and statisticians authorized by ORES within SSA.  Employees having access to records will receive prior notification of criminal sanctions for unauthorized disclosure of personal information about individuals. 

Magnetic tape and other files with personal identifiers will be retained in secured areas accessible only to authorized personnel who have a need to enter the areas in the performance of their official duties.  Microdata files prepared for purposes of research and analysis will be stripped of personal identifiers and will be subject to procedural safeguards to assure anonymity. (See Appendix G to this publication for additional information relating to safeguards SSA employs to protect personal information.)

Retention and disposal: 

Microdata files prepared for purposes of research and analysis are purged of personal identifiers. Hardcopy questionnaires are destroyed when surveys are completed. Records with identifiers will be held in secured storage areas at SSA or at the Bureau of the Census and will be disposed of as soon as they are determined to be no longer needed for analysis. Means of disposal will be appropriate to the records storage medium; e.g., erasure of tapes, shredding of printouts.

System manager and address: 

Associate Commissioner 
Office of Research, Evaluation and Statistics 
Social Security Administration 
6401 Security Boulevard 
Baltimore, Maryland 21235

Notification procedure: 

This system will contain limited data selected for statistical analysis. Individuals inquiring about their records in SSA programs may wish to consult other SSA systems of records which contain more complete information.

An individual can determine if this system contains a record about him/her by writing to the systems manager(s) at the above address and providing his/her name, SSN or other information that may be in the system of records that will identify him/her.  An individual requesting notification of records in person should provide the same information, as well as provide an identity document, preferably with a photograph, such as a driver’s license or some other means of identification, such as a voter registration card, credit card, etc.  If an individual does not have any identification documents sufficient to establish his/her identity, the individual must certify in writing that he/she is the person claimed to be and that he/she understands that the knowing and willful request for, or acquisition of, a record pertaining to another individual under false pretenses is a criminal offense.

If notification is requested by telephone, an individual must verify his/her identity by providing identifying information that parallels the record to which notification is being requested.  If it is determined that the identifying information provided by telephone is insufficient, the individual will be required to submit a request in writing or in person.  If an individual is requesting information by telephone on behalf of another individual, the subject individual must be connected with SSA and the requesting individual in the same phone call.  SSA will establish the subject individual’s identity (his/her name, SSN, address, date of birth and place of birth along with one other piece of information such as mother’s maiden name) and ask for his/her consent in providing information to the requesting individual.

If a request for notification is submitted by mail, an individual must include a notarized statement to SSA to verify his/her identity or must certify in the request that he/she is the person claimed to be and that he/she understands that the knowing and willful request for, or acquisition of, a record pertaining to another individual under false pretenses is a criminal offense.  These procedures are in accordance with SSA Regulations (20 CFR § 401.40).

Record access procedures: 

Same as notification procedures. Requesters should reasonably identify the information they are seeking.  These procedures are in accordance with SSA Regulations (20 CFR 401.40(c)).

Contesting record procedures: 

Same as notification procedures. Requesters should reasonably identify the record, specify the information they are contesting, and state the corrective action sought and the reasons for the correction with supporting justification showing how the record is incomplete, untimely, inaccurate or irrelevant.  These procedures are in accordance with SSA Regulations (20 CFR 401.65(a)).

Record source categories: 

Records in this system of records will be derived from other existing systems of records maintained by SSA for the RSDI  programs and the income supplementation programs (e.g., the disability data systems 60‑0049 through 06‑0051), Earnings Record (60‑0059), MBR (60‑0090) and Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits (60‑0103); Census survey data obtained from the Bureau of the Census; Medicare reports obtained from the HHS HCFA; MedPar Medicare Bill File (09‑70‑0005); and survey records from personal interviews.

Systems exempted from certain provisions of the Privacy Act: