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Volume 10 Issue 3 - July 2009

Protecting Confidentiality in the HRS

SSA’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy (ORDP) has released a Research and Statistics Note on Access Restrictions and Confidentiality Protections in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Written by Lionel P. Deang and Paul S. Davies, the Research and Statistics Note describes the competing challenges faced by organizations involved in statistical surveys of human subjects: protecting confidentiality while maximizing data accessibility to potential researchers.  The challenge is especially great with larger longitundinal microdata sets like the HRS.  In addition, the linkage of the survey data with administrative records from SSA increases the value of the data, but also increases the risk to confidentiality. The Note details the procedures and policies that are implemented by HRS that ensure confidentiality of the data. Finally, HRS procedures are compared to those employed by other agencies (e.g., Census Bureau).  Access the Note in HTML ( or PDF (

All of ORDP’s policy, research, and statistical publications can be accessed at