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First reason for receiving social security income

Codes and Frequencies

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WHYSS1 reports the first reason respondents gave for receiving Social Security payments during the previous calendar year. If persons received Social Security payments for more than one reason (e.g., on the basis of both widowhood and disability), they reported their second reason for receiving Social Security payments in the complementary variable WHYSS2.

Respondents were to report Social Security payments that they themselves received as beneficiaries and Social Security payments that they received on behalf of a child beneficiary. When interpreting the value labels, users should keep in mind the two meanings of "child" in this context. Beginning in 1980, the ASEC CPS defined as a "child" anyone under age 15; persons age 15 and older were considered "adults" by the survey and were asked questions about their employment and own income. (Prior to 1980, persons under age 14 were considered "children" in terms of the survey universe for work and income questions.) By contrast, government programs such as Social Security generally use the more common definition of "child" to mean persons under age 18 when defining eligibility for benefits. Thus, the value label "Surviving child" (corresponding to code 5) covers reporting of one's own benefits by persons who qualify for benefits as "children" under Social Security's eligibility rules (i.e., they are unmarried and under age 18 or are unmarried, under age 19, and attending secondary school full-time) but who are "adults" in terms of the CPS definition (i.e., they have passed their 15th birthday). The value label "On behalf of surviving, dependent, or disabled child(ren)" (corresponding to code 7) covers reporting of benefits on behalf of persons who are under age 15.


This variable is comparable over time.

For persons age 15 and older, the total amount of income received from Social Security payments during the previous calendar year is reported in INCSS. Dollar amounts for Social Security payments to a child beneficiary under age 15 (for example, dependent child benefits paid to the young child of a parent who is collecting retirement or disability payments from Social Security, or survivor benefits paid to a young child based on the earning record of a parent who has died) are included in a parent's or guardian's reported income from Social Security in INCSS.


  • Persons age 15+ who reported receiving income from Social Security during the previous calendar year.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2001 – 2023 - - X - - - - - - - - -



Unharmonized Variables