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Open Government Initiative
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Social Security Administration Data for
Quarterly Spoken Language Preferences of Social Security Retirement and Survivor Claimants

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This dataset contains quarterly data for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and is available in the following formats:

This dataset contains quarterly data for fiscal year 2016 onward; data for 2016 is based on a 52-week reporting period. The dataset is available in the following formats:

This dataset contains quarterly data for fiscal year 2016 with quarter 4 shown two ways — we base one on a 52-week reporting period and one on a 53-week reporting period. See explanation below in the Notes section.


The goal of the Social Security Administration (SSA) is to improve core services provided to the public and provide alternative methods for conducting business with the agency. In support of this goal, SSA is committed to providing equal access to services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals. The above datasets provide quarterly volumes for spoken language preferences at the national level of individuals filing for Retirement and Survivor Insurance (RSI) benefits.

Dataset Index

Agency Program Description

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is part of the retirement plan of almost every American worker. More than 36 million retired workers receive Social Security Retirement Insurance benefits and the number of retirement applications is projected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.

Monthly benefits are paid to retired workers and their families, and to survivors of deceased workers. A retired worker who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured, benefits are paid based upon the attainment of age (62 or older).

The full retirement age (also called “normal retirement age”) had been 65 for many years. However, the 1983 Social Security Amendments included a provision for raising the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later. The 1983 Amendments phased in a gradual increase in the age for collecting full Social Security retirement benefits. The retirement age is increasing from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period, with an 11-year hiatus at which the retirement age will remain at 66. The Congress cited improvements in the health of older people and increases in average life expectancy as primary reasons for increasing the normal retirement age. Since the program first began paying monthly Social Security benefits in 1940 the average life expectancy for men reaching age 65 has increased nearly 4 years to age 81; for women reaching age 65, their average life expectancy has increased nearly 6 years to age 84.

When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn “credits” toward Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need to get retirement benefits depends on when you were born. If you were born in 1929 or later, you need 40 credits (10 years of work). If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, the credits will remain on your Social Security record. If you return to work later on, you can add more credits so that you qualify. No retirement benefits can be paid until you have the required number of credits.

Your benefit payment is based on how much you earned during your working career. Higher lifetime earnings result in higher benefits. If there were some years when you did not work or had low earnings, your benefit amount may be lower than if you had worked steadily. Your benefit payment also is affected by the age at which you decide to retire. If you retire at age 62 (the earliest possible retirement age for Social Security), your benefit will be lower than if you wait until later to retire.

The “primary insurance amount” (PIA) is payable at the normal retirement age; maximum benefits are payable at age 70. The PIA is the benefit (before rounding down to next lower whole dollar) a person would receive if he/she elects to begin receiving retirement benefits at his/her normal retirement age. At this age, the benefit is neither reduced for early retirement nor increased for delayed retirement.

For more information about SSA's retirement insurance program, go to:

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Data Collection Description

SSA collects language preference data when members of the public contact us to apply for Social Security benefits and services. We use our electronic systems to capture this information. The Social Security Unified Measurement System (SUMS) provides work measurement data for all workloads processed throughout SSA. SUMS Counts Demographics Data (SCDD) is the data source for SSA’s LEP reports. We populate SCDD by associating the agency’s SUMS workload data with demographics data, which we house in the SUMS client tables and source by the Integrated Client Data Base. Demographics data includes spoken language, written language, age range and gender.

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  • A federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. Most years our fiscal year workload reports contain 52 weeks since we include only full weeks, rather than cut off in the middle of a week. Every few years the reporting period is 53 weeks when we apply the end of week cutoff. Fiscal Year 2016 is a 53-week year for our workload reports
  • Reporting quarters are administratively set reporting periods and do not necessarily correspond exactly to calendar months.
  • Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 were 52-week years for our workload reports. For 2016, we present the data in two ways because 2016 is a 53-week year. The 53rd week of data is included in quarter 4; no other quarterly counts are affected.
  • We provide both sets of data for 2016 since the 52-week data may be more appropriate for comparing 2016 to prior years that were 52-week reporting periods. This would be particularly relevant for looking at receipts and clearances, for example. The 53-week data may be more relevant for viewing the end of year status of workloads, especially pending cases and it represents the efforts achieved with the entire year’s resources.

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Data Dictionary — Fiscal Years 2014 - 2015

Field A: Language preference of the claimant for oral communication.

Field B – I: Receipt Counts for each Quarter for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015.

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Data Dictionary — Fiscal Year 2016 Onward

Field A: Language preference of the claimant for oral communication.

Field B Onwards: Receipt Counts for each Quarter beginning with Fiscal Year 2016.

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Data Dictionary — Fiscal Year 2016, 52 weeks and 53 weeks

Field A: Language preference of the claimant for oral communication.

Field B – E: Receipt Counts for each Quarter of Fiscal Year 2016. Field E, Quarter 4, is based on a 52-week reporting period.

Field F: Receipt Counts for Quarter 4 of Fiscal Year 2016 based on a 53-week reporting period.

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