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SSA Supplement Content

The Social Security Administration (SSA) determined the content in the SSA Supplement based on their need for information from certain SIPP topical module topics. Most selected topical modules remained intact with almost all questions keeping the same universes, question text wording, and answer lists. The SSA Supplement Users' Guide notes the differences between 2008 Panel and SSA Supplement questions. The SSA Supplement re-asked a limited number of 2014 Wave 1 SIPP questions to keep respondent burden at a minimum.

To see the SSA Supplement questionnaire, or Items Booklet, refer to the SSA Supplement Users’ Guide, Appendix C.

Personal Retirement Accounts

The Personal Retirement Accounts section collects data on contributions to and distributions from all Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Keogh accounts, 401k, 403b, 503b or thrift plans owned by a person aged 15 years old or older. This section is a continuation of the Wave 1 SIPP assets section that asked about account ownership and value. It is the only section in the SSA Supplement where the reference year is 2013, as it is in SIPP Wave 1, and not as of the day of the Supplement interview.

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Main Employment

The purpose of the Employment section in the SSA Supplement was to determine a person’s main job or business at the time of the Supplement interview. This main job or business was necessary as input into the Pensions section, which asked about retirement or pension plans offered by the current main job or business. The main job or business might be from Wave 1 and have the Wave 1 derived job ID, or it may be a new job or business at the time of the Supplement and have a unique job ID. If the latter is true, then there is no matching back to Wave 1 employment data.

The SSA requested only certain characteristics of the main job or business, such as start year, job hours, class of worker, industry, occupation, union status, the number of employer locations, and the number of employees.

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Pensions

The Pensions section collects information on a person’s retirement expectations and their participation in retirement and pension plans provided by either current or previous employers or businesses (if the person is self-employed). Many of the questions in the Pensions section focus on a person’s only plan or first and second most important plans offered by the “main job” or “main business” determined in the Main Employment section.

The Pension questions focus on three types of plans: defined benefit, defined contribution, and cash balance. The questions are age and circumstance dependent, for example:

  • Some questions are for those who are 25 years old or older;
  • Some for those who are 15 years old or older;
  • Some are for those who are 54 years old or older; and
  • Some require that the respondent have two or more employers.


This section has a final series of questions that focus on the receipt of lump-sum payments from pension plans established in previously held jobs or businesses.

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Marital History

Data about the marital status and marital history of each respondent 15 years old and older is collected in both the 2014 Panel and the SSA Supplement. However, the Supplement collects a complete marital history up until the Supplement interview instead of just the history during the Wave 1 reference period. Every person age 15 or over was asked current marital status. If the respondent was ever married, a follow-up question about the number of times married was then asked. Next the respondent was asked for the dates of up to three marital events. A marital event could have included a marriage, a widowhood, a separation and divorce, or just a separation. The Supplement allowed for the first two and most recent events.

Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages are included as married and are distinguished by a new recode, RSSMC. Additionally, the spouse is identified for every person married with spouse present.  

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Health Status

The Health Status question re-asks adults 15 years old or older the Wave 1 SIPP question about the person’s self-reported health status (e.g., excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor) at the time of the SSA Supplement. The answer to this question is used in the universe of some disability questions.

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Work Disability

The Work Disability section collects information about adults 16 – 72 years old who have difficulty finding or keeping a job, limitations in the kind or amount of work possible, and are prevented from working at all. If the person indicated they do have a condition limiting the amount or kind of work they can do, they were then asked when the limitation began, if they were working at that time, what physical, mental, or emotional condition or conditions caused the limitation, and their ability to work currently.

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Adult Disability

The Adult Disability section collects information about adults 18 years old or older having difficulty performing certain activities due to a long-lasting physical, mental, or emotional condition. This section asks more detailed questions than the disability section in the SIPP. Adult Disability covers the use of aids, difficulties with functional activities, difficulties with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, and the possible need for assistance of helpers to perform any of the activities. Respondents are asked to name the condition or conditions causing the difficulties, and if they have any difficulty with cognitive, emotional, or developmental conditions. This section also includes questions on receipt of disability benefits and the frequency of computer and Internet usage.

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Child Disability

The Child Disability section collects information about children 0 to 17 years old having difficulty performing certain activities due to a long-lasting physical, mental, or emotional condition. This section asks more detailed questions than the child disability section in the SIPP. Child Disability covers the use of aids, difficulties with functional activities, difficulties with activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living, difficulty with cognitive, emotional, or developmental conditions, the need for help performing any of the activities, and the name of the condition or conditions causing the difficulties.

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