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Received social security


This variable is not available for any of the currently selected samples.


GOTSS indicates whether the respondent received income from Social Security during the previous calendar year. Such income included disability benefits, survivor benefits, and retirement benefits, with eligibility and payment levels based on prior work history.

For 1966-1967, the amount of Social Security income was combined with all other sources of unearned income in the INCUNERN variable. GOTSS in these samples simply identifies those who received Social Security income. Of people who are coded as receiving Social Security income in GOTSS in these samples, some (less than 5%) do not have unearned income in INCUNERN. Users should exercise caution when analyzing these cases.

For 1976-1987, the amount of income from Social Security payments was combined with income from Railroad Retirement payments in the INCSS variable. Recipients of Railroad Retirement income (which included payments for retirement pensions, disability payments, and survivor benefits) can be identified via the GOTRRRP variable. If respondents did not receive income from Railroad Retirement payments during the previous calendar year (i.e., they have a code of 1 in GOTRRR), and they did receive income from Social Security payments during the previous calendar year (i.e., they have a code of 2 in GOTSS), then the dollar amount in INCSS for 1976-1987 should indicate the amount of income specifically from Social Security payments. If individuals received payments from both Social Security and Railroad Retirement, then the amount of income specifically from Social Security payments cannot be identified. Even in this case, however, researchers can use GOTSS to analyze the characteristics of the recipients of Social Security income.


While there were changes in the question wording over time, these changes are unlikely to greatly affect the completeness of reporting on Social Security income. For 1976-1979, interviewers asked separate but consecutive questions about the receipt of income from Social Security checks and from Railroad retirement checks, and then recorded the sum total of income from these two sources on the form. Beginning in 1980, information about Social Security payments was collected in a separate section of the interview; information about Railroad Retirement payments was collected in later queries about retirement income, disability income, and survivor income (see GOTRRRP).

Beginning in 1988, INCSS included only income from Social Security payments; after that date, income from Railroad Retirement payments was combined with other sources of retirement income (in INCRETIR), with other sources of disability income (in INCDISAB), and with other types of survivor income (in INCSURV), depending on the type of Railroad Retirement benefit in question. Persons with reported income in INCSS from 1988-2004 (i.e., those with values greater than 0 and less than 99999 in that variable) can be compared to persons with a "yes" response (code 2) in INCSS for 1976-1987.

Beginning in 1988, information is also available on the reason(s) for receiving Social Security payments, either for the respondent as direct beneficiary or on behalf of a child (under age 15) beneficiary. The first reason for such payments is reported in WHYSS1; the second reason (if any) is reported in WHYSS2.

The public use data files for the ASEC CPS for 1969-1975 also contain a dichotomous variable on the receipt of Social Security, but the results are not reliable. In the 1969-1975 files, many persons coded as "yes" in GOTSS do not have reported income in INCSS, which included income from Social Security payments.


  • 1966-1967: Persons age 14+.
  • 1976-1979: Persons age 14+.
  • 1980-1987: Persons age 15+.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1966 – 1967 - - X - - - - - - - - -
1976 – 1987 - - X - - - - - - - - -


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Unharmonized Variables