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- Social Security Administration's Master Earnings File: Background Information
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The large majority of employers who file W-2c's, however, do so correctly. Even after the switch, some state and local governments were still able to report their employees' earnings under the old quarterly system. Some reported under both the old and new systems. When different EIN s were used for each agency, some earnings were posted twice.
SSA corrects duplicate earnings records when notified by affected employees.
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There are also some issues in the MEF data related to self-employment earnings. Total self-employment earnings reported by individuals and the total number of self-employed workers prior to can not be determined because of the way these data were collected by SSA described above. In addition, self-employment earnings that were taxable by Medicare only were not recorded from through This was not discovered until and at that time only data from and could be recovered retroactively; for , only self-employed earnings from delinquent reports are available.
Therefore, complete self-employment income data for are not available.
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In addition, there may be limitations in the data reported to SSA , as they depend on the accuracy of data reported by self-employed individuals on IRS tax forms. The MEF data are used extensively, but are mainly used for calculating Social Security benefits for individuals and any auxiliary beneficiaries they may have. The result is called average indexed monthly earnings AIME.
For individuals already receiving benefits, MEF records are used for several programmatic purposes. If so, the SSA computer system recalculates the monthly benefit as described above. New earnings exceeding those in one of the previous 35 highest years of earnings would change the beneficiary's AIME , resulting in higher benefits. The maintenance of earnings information before and even after an individual begins receiving benefits is vital for the operation of the program.
In addition to program-specific uses, MEF data are used to create other files of interest to researchers. The CWHS is broken into an active file 3. Of the two EE-ER files, one contains covered wages only and the other contains both covered and noncovered wages this includes nontaxable wages and HI -only taxable wages and covered employment.
The EE-ER files also contain age, sex, race, and deferred-compensation contributions variables. The importance of these files is that they show employee and employer location county and state and the employer's type of industry, since wages are reported at the employer level in the Detail Segment of the MEF Panis and others The LEED file is used for studies of workers in different geographic regions and different industries over time Panis and others This file could be very useful for outside researchers who are interested in long-term U.
Organize Your Important Household Papers: Print this Lesson
Corson, Director of the Bureau of Old-Age Insurance, noted "[a]s a byproduct of its necessary operations, the records of the Bureau of Old-Age Insurance will in [the] future provide a wealth of new sources of information regarding the working population of the United States. The earnings data available at SSA are used by researchers, analysts, and others to understand the past and present U.
As with any large administrative data set, the MEF has some limitations of which researchers should be aware. Nevertheless, it is the premier source of earnings data on U. SSA can use it only to record wages and cannot share it with any other federal agency. For more information on the history of coverage, see Myers These appear to be reporting errors, but are stored on the MEF as if they are Medicare wages in excess of Social Security wages. However, MEF began to record deferred compensation for all groups in a separate field in For more information on deferred compensation, see Pattison and Waldron Therefore, information on the Detail Segment for this time period is incomplete and is only posted in special situations usually if needed for benefit applications.
Calculating the difference enables the determination of the cumulative QC s for — This allows them to remain insured for disability and retirement purposes the QC s are allocated to specific quarters to best advantage the claimant. Effective for tax year , the maximum amount reportable using the optional method of reporting will be equal to the amount needed for four QC s in a given year.
Originally, SSN s were used strictly to establish and maintain a worker's earnings record. A small percentage of SSN s are still requested by working-age and older persons, mostly immigrants. In the s, SSA established a procedure to determine if multiple numbers have been issued to a single person. Currently, SSA has software that will search the Numident file to prevent issuing a second number to an individual. These credits may qualify individuals for higher Social Security benefits. The Master Beneficiary Record and Numident are the preferred sources for this variable Panis and others Instead they receive a query that contains two summary earnings research files: adjusted earnings up to the OASDI taxable maximum and nonadjusted earnings.
These files do not contain all of the variables described in the Data Available section.
A similar procedure is used to retrieve data from the Detailed Segment. Employees with access to records have been notified of criminal sanctions for unauthorized disclosure of information about individuals. Magnetic tapes or other files with personal identifiers are retained in secured storage areas accessible only to authorized personnel.
Microdata files prepared for research and analysis are purged of personal identifiers and are subject to procedural safeguards to assure anonymity. For more information on railroad benefits, see Whitman For more information on AWI 's origins and initial construction, see Donkar The earnings test applies only until the month that full retirement age is attained. Prior to , the employer's address was always used. The MEF does not record geographic codes. Buckler, Warren. Commentary: Continuous Work History Sample.
Social Security Bulletin 51 4 : 12 and Census Bureau. Average wages for — for indexing under the Social Security Act. Actuarial Note No.
Government records incorrectly kill off thousands, and there’s no easy fix
Social Security Act Amendments of A summary and legislative history. Social Security Bulletin 13 10 : 3— Administering Old-Age Insurance. Social Security Bulletin 1 5 : 3—6. Fifty years of operations in the Social Security Administration. Social Security Bulletin 48 6 : 14— Average wages for indexing under the Social Security Act and the automatic determinations for — Accounting operations of the Bureau of Old-Age Insurance.
Social Security Administration's Master Earnings File: Background Information
Social Security Bulletin 1 6 : 24— General Accounting Office. Self-employed fiscal year taxpayers can receive an advantage compared to self-employed calendar year taxpayers at the Social Security Trust Funds' expense. Report No. GAO Better coordination among federal agencies could reduce unidentified earnings reports. Internal Revenue Manual Social Security, fourth edition. Peterson, Randall Hirscher, and Paul Steinberg.
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Pattison, David. Pattison, David, and Hilary Waldron.
Trends in elective deferrals of earnings from — in Social Security administrative data. Research and Statistics Note No. Identifying the race or ethnicity of SSI recipients. Social Security Bulletin 62 4 : 9— Performance and accountability report for fiscal year , performance section. Contribution and benefit base. Overview of Social Security employer no-match letters process. Recordkeeping in the Division of Accounting Operations.
Social Security Yearbook. Social Security Bulletin 52 10 : 20— Committee on Ways and Means Serial No. Whitman, Kevin. An overview of the Railroad Retirement Program.