Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 1

(released February 2022)
by Lois A. Vitt and Barbara A. Smith

Research has documented how knowledgeable Americans are about certain aspects of Social Security programs and benefits. As a result, researchers have identified information gaps in both the types of knowledge that individuals optimally should have and the demographic groups who would most benefit from informational outreach. However, research has not investigated the settings in which Social Security information is or could be provided to the public by sources other than the Social Security Administration. This article explores the presence and extent of Social Security information provided to employees in workplaces, servicemembers in military facilities, students in secondary and postsecondary schools, and participants in religious and community organization settings. The authors visited seminars and classes; interviewed trainers and educators; and reviewed textbooks, other publications, and Internet content to assess where this important information is—or could be—provided to the public.

by Michael Compson

This article describes a new methodology developed by the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics (ORES) of the Social Security Administration (SSA) to indicate the state and county of residence, date of birth, and sex of nearly all workers for whom tax records provide earnings data in a given year. Applying these geographic and demographic indicators will enable ORES to use a vastly larger sample of workers to generate annual earnings estimates. The current methodology assigns state and county codes and demographic information only to workers in SSA's 1-percent Continuous Work History Sample—fewer than 1.7 million workers in 2017. The new methodology would assign state and county codes and demographic information to more than 178 million workers for 2017. A much larger sample of workers mitigates the limitations associated with the current estimation process and enables ORES to generate more comprehensive and accurate county-level earnings estimates.