Respondent Cross-Year Benefits

The Respondent Cross-Year Benefits dataset is derived from Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) data for primary beneficiary and other (secondary) insured. Information is provided for years 1962 through 2021. Prior to 2006, respondent permissions were based on separate agreements between HRS and SSA. This meant that the scope of each agreement was unique in terms of time period and information provided. In 2006 the terms of the SSA-HRS agreement were changed:

  • HRS was allowed to ask respondents for prospective permission for access to future biennial updates of earnings and benefits data
  • The prospective time period was subsequently revised; there is now a 6 year maximum prospective range for earnings records and 12 years for benefits data.

The inputs to this dataset have been received from the Social Security Administration at multiple points in time since the Health and Retirement Survey began, resulting in data element sets that are not always consistent (see Appendix B, below). The following is a summary of the sources from which this data set was built:

  • In 1992, 1994 or 1996 for HRS cohort members
  • In 1993 or 1995 for AHEAD cohort members
  • In 1998 or 2000 for CODA and War Baby cohort members as well as new spouses and never-interviewed respondents
  • In 2004 EBB cohort members, HRS cohort re-consents, War Baby 1998/2000 refusers, never interviewed respondents, and new spouses
  • Valid permissions received in 2006 onward from:
    • New and never-interviewed respondents
    • Respondents who have not provided a valid benefit and/or earnings permission
    • Respondents who gave permission in an earlier wave, but who have 'timed out' of the maximum prospective range

Since each new record set obtained from SSA reflects the most recent information available, the latest version of the Respondent Cross-Year Benefits dataset will always be most accurate. If current information for a given respondent is missing, e.g. the respondent has not (re)consented, the most recent data elements from past datasets are used.

Product Details

Product Type
Social Security Administration (SSA) Data
Entry Cohort Info
Updated Through
HRS 2020 Wave
Latest Release
March 2024
Version Notes
  • This data set supersedes all previous Respondent Benefits releases.
  • The Social Security Weights file is not included in this data distribution set.
Documentation and Links

Geographic information in HRS public release data sets is recoded to Census Division categories. Files derived from SSA administrative data may be merged with these data sets, but may not be merged with any data containing geographic identifiers at a level of detail below Census Division. In addition, data sets derived from SSA administrative data may not be merged with any other restricted data set(s) without the explicit written permission of the Health and Retirement Study.