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Dataset: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name Survey of Income and Program Participation
Dataset Acronym SIPP

The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) is a nationally representative longitudinal panel survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It collects a wide variety of information including the source and amount of income, labor force details, program participation and eligibility, and general demographic characteristics including a number of health and disability measures. It measures the effectiveness of existing federal, state, and local programs, and estimates future costs and coverage for government programs, such as food stamps. The SIPP provides statistics on the distribution of income and measures of economic well-being in the U.S.

The original survey was fielded three times a year during 1984-2008 with a four-month reference period. This version of the SIPP had core wave files and detailed topical modules.

A significant redesign was instated in 2014. The reengineered 2014 SIPP interview is conducted annually for four years with a 12-month reference period. The main survey incorporates topical module content, although its coverage is less extensive. The benefit is that longitudinal trends in key variables will be available. Going forward, the questionnaire will contain 12 disability measures: the six-question functional limitation sequence from the ACS, covering difficulties with hearing, seeing, cognitive activities, ambulatory activities, self-care activities, and independent living activities; three child functional disability questions; and three work disability questions.

Note that SSA worked with Census to develop a one time SSA Supplement to the 2014 SIPP that collected much of the detailed disability information dropped in the re-engineered 2014 SIPP.

Key Terms Program participation, program eligibility
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity U.S. Census Bureau
Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

Prior to 2014 panel (many from work limitation topical module): Arthritis, Cancer, Cardiovascular conditions, Cerebral palsy, Diabetes, Epilepsy or seizure disorder, Heart attack, Infectious diseases, Kidney/renal condition, Missing limbs/hand/finger/feet, Multiple sclerosis, Orthopedic conditions, Partial or total paralysis, Pulmonary disorders, Spinal cord injury (SCI), Stroke, Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

2014 Panel: NA 

Disability Measures

Prior to 2014 panel (core and topical modules): Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Communication impairment, Intellectual disability, Functional limitations (ADLs & IADLs), Hearing disability, Mental disability, Independent living disability, Self-care disability, Visual disability, Work limitation

2014 panel: ACS 6 question disability series:   Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability Developmental disability (children), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Self-care disability, Visual disability

Work limitation

Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics Source and amount of income, labor force information, program participation and eligibility data, healthcare access, utilization, costs and insurance, general demographic characteristics
Sample Population Noninstitutionalized individuals, interviews all household members ages 15 or older (proxy interviews for children under 15).
Sample Size/Notes

2008 panel: 42,032 households

2014 panel: 29,835 households

Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage National
Geographic Specificity National
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode In-person and telephone-based interviews
Years Collected 15 separate panels: 2014 (significant redesign), 2008, 2004, 2001, 1996, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984
Data Collection Frequency

1984-2008 panels: Survey three times a year (four-month reference period) for variable duration of panel.

2014 panel: Annual survey (12 month reference period) for four years

Strengths and Limitations

Prior to 2014 panel: Relatively large sample size with 4-month reference period. Detailed questions allows analysis of lower prevalence disabilities. Topical modules include detailed questions regarding health, functional limitation status, and medical history. Modules of special interest: The Functional Limitations and Disability module, The Work Disability History module, The Medical Expense and Work Disability module, The Health and Disability and Health Status and Utilization of Health Services module. Because the Functional Limitations and Disability module is repeated, the measures can be used to examine health status over time.

2014 panel: Relatively large sample size with 12-month reference period. Questionnaire annually includes the same set of 12 disability measures: the standard six-question sequence of disability items from the ACS, three child development questions, and three work limitation questions.

Limitations Sample attrition over panel waves, especially between first and second panels. Beginning with the 2014 panel, less specific information is provided about lower prevalence disabilities.
Data Details
Primary Website
Data Access

CENSUS (all panels/years 1984-onward):

Data archived on ADDEP at ICPSR (years 1984-2004):  

ICPSR includes additional value added information for researchers

Data Access Requirements

Data Use agreement, No cost, Public Use Dataset

Summary Tables/Reports

Americans with Disabilities:2010 Report 

Data Components Core Topical modules ** Multiple panels, years, waves within panels, and related replicate weight files
Similar/Related Dataset(s)

2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) SSA Supplement

Selected Papers
Other Papers

Wittenburg, D., & Nelson, S. (2006, February). A Guide to Disability Statistics from the Survey of Income and Program Participation:


U.S. Census SIPP Users’ Guides:

Related Repositories

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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