Accessing CMS Data

Research files created by the NIA Data LINKAGE Program (LINKAGE) link HRS data to detailed information about health care utilization from records maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Learn more about the available CMS data.

Note: The NIA Data LINKAGE Program was formerly known as the Medicare and Medicaid Resource Information Center (MedRIC).

Application Process

Follow these steps to apply for access. If you already have access, see the Post Application Activities page for details on modifying or renewing your agreement.

Unlike other HRS restricted data, the HRS linked CMS data are created and supplied by others. While HRS is your first step in applying for the HRS linked CMS data, you will have additional application processes and will access the data through the LINKAGE Enclave. Upon HRS approval you will submit your request for CMS-HRS linked claims to LINKAGE.

Step 1. Submit Application for HRS Restricted Data

Submit the RDA Application (CMS-HRS) form to apply for a Restricted Data Agreement (RDA) to access HRS Restricted Data. If you have not already done so, you will need to create a website account.

The application can not be saved before submitting, so make sure you have the following information and documentation before you begin:

  • Project title and research abstract
  • A short description of each of the following:
    • The HRS Restricted data products and variables you intend to use in your research, including planned data analyses
    • Why the public data are not adequate for your research purposes
    • How the results you plan to export or publish will comply with the requirements of disclosure limitation review
  • Documentation of Full Board or Expedited IRB review and approval of your research plan, in .pdf format
    • If the study team includes members who do not have a formal affiliation with the receiving institution, IRB documentation from every additional represented institution is also required
  • Information on the requested CMS-HRS data products:
    • Data sets and file years requested
    • Data encryption level (standard, geographic, or provider)
    • A brief justification of requests for data sets with geographic or provider variables (if requested)
  • Information on the study team. Include the following information:
    • name
    • role on project
    • business address and phone number
    • institutional email address (Gmail, Yahoo, or other personal email addresses are not allowed)
    • current CV, in .pdf format
    • indicate if the team member requires access to the data
    • if the Principal Investigator is a student, a letter of support from an advisor is required
  • A completed HRS-RDA User Tracking Spreadsheet, in .xlsx format

After the application is submitted, all team members will be asked to create an account on this website and submit the HRS Disclosure Limitation Review Policy Agreement form.

Step 2. HRS Reviews Application

HRS will review the application and contact you if additional information is needed, or with a preliminary approval to seek institutional signature (see Step 3). HRS will assign a restricted data agreement (RDA) number, which you will use in all future correspondence.

Step 3. Researcher Applies for IRB Approval and Institutional Contracting Authority Signature

Once you have preliminary approval, submit the HRS Confidentiality Agreement to your institutional Contracting Authority to review and sign.

Email the signed Confidentiality Agreement to

Step 4. HRS Finalizes Application

The completed application is reviewed and approved and a counter-signed copy of the Confidentiality Agreement is sent to you by via email. LINKAGE and the NIA Review Board will be CC'd on this email, as notification that your HRS RDA has been approved.

Step 5. Researcher Applies for Approval from LINKAGE

See the LINKAGE website for more information.

Step 6. Data Access

You will be contacted by LINKAGE staff with the details you need to log in to the LINKAGE Enclave.