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Social Security income


999999 = N.I.U. (Not in Universe).

The Census Bureau applies different disclosure avoidance measures across time for individuals with high income in this variable. Detailed explanations of these methods, topcodes, and replacement value and swap value thresholds are available here.


INCSS indicates how much pre-tax income (if any) the respondent received from Social Security or U.S. government Railroad Retirement insurance payments (for 1968-1979) or from Social Security payments exclusively (1980 forward).

Amounts are expressed as they were reported to the interviewer; users must adjust for inflation using Consumer Price Index adjustment factors.


Along with effects of inflation and shifts in the variable universe, INCSS changed due to modifications in income categories and question wording.

For 1968-1979, the CPS questionnaire asked whether an individual received money from Social Security or Railroad Retirement checks, and income from either source was included in the INCSS variable. Beginning in 1980, INCSS covered only income from Social Security payments; Railroad Retirement payments were included as retirement income in the INCRETIR variable. Prior to 1980, respondents reported whether they received money from Social Security; beginning in 1980, they were asked if they received Social Security payments "either for themselves or as combined payments with other family members."

Social Security income included payments to retired persons, to dependents of deceased insured workers, and to disabled workers. Other IPUMS-CPS variables covering retirement income (INCRETIR), survivors' payments (INCSURV), and disability income (INCDISAB) specifically excluded Social Security payments.

For 1962-1967, the value of income from Social Security payments is subsumed in the INCUNERN variable, which encompasses all income from sources other than wages and salaries (INCWAGE), non-farm businesses (INCBUS), and farms (INCFARM).

Comparability with IPUMS-USA

INCSS was included in the census beginning in 1970, and in the CPS beginning in 1968. The lower age limit for respondents was 14+ in the 1970 census and in the CPS up through 1979; this rose to age 15+ with the 1980 census and the 1980 CPS. As noted above, the IPUMS-CPS variable INCSS included Railroad Retirement payments only up through 1979. INCSS in IPUMS-USA consistently included Railroad Retirement payments.


  • 1968-1979: Persons age 14+.
  • 1980+: Persons age 15+.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1968 – 2023 - - X - - - - - - - - -