Disability Analysis File
The Disability Analysis File (DAF), sponsored by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, is a set of files containing SSA administrative data on federal disability beneficiaries. The DAF aggregates administrative data from a variety of sources to produce a research-ready dataset with one record per beneficiary. It contains historical, longitudinal, and one-time data related to program participation and benefits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries. Relative to working with other SSA administrative data, the DAF eliminates tedious data development steps, letting researchers quickly focus on data analysis.
The DAF currently includes data on all SSDI and SSI beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and Full Retirement Age (FRA) who have received disability benefits in any month since 1996. It also includes data on child beneficiaries under age 18 who have received benefits since 2005. On an annual basis, Mathematica builds a new version of the DAF that adds records for beneficiaries who began participating in the SSDI or SSI programs during the most recent year and to update records for beneficiaries who enrolled in an earlier year and are in previous versions of the DAF.
The DAF-Public Use File (PUF) is currently the only way most researchers can access DAF data. Access to the full DAF is limited to SSA staff, SSA contractors, and federal partners. SSA developed DAF-PUF to make the DAF widely available to researchers interested in childhood and working-age federal disability beneficiaries. The DAF-PUF includes the variables from the full DAF with the broadest research appeal for a random 10% sample of the full DAF. The DAF-PUF has more than three million observations and more than 7,000 variables, with some masking and other minor changes to ensure beneficiary confidentiality. As a public use file, the DAF-PUF allows non-SSA researchers to download DAF data directly from the internet. The link to the DAF-PUF and related documentation is: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/daf_puf.html#files. Extensive documentation for the DAF is available at: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/daf.html.
SSA is currently working on a process that will allow access by researchers to the full DAF. Researchers will need to complete a separate agreement for each project, and access will be on-site only, limited to SSA’s offices in Washington DC. Watch this space for updates on this initiative.
Jody Schimmel Hyde