Until just a few weeks ago, there was the possibility that come next December, people receiving benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program would experience a real and significant reduction in their benefits. Although the recent budget deal (the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 passed by Congress in late October) moves needed money into the DI trust fund and ensures that full benefits will be paid to DI beneficiaries until 2022, it doesn’t address the long-run, structural challenges the Social Security system faces.
That’s why today, as part of Urban’s efforts to provide readers, researchers, and others with tools to better understand and improve social and public policy, we are releasing our Social Security Data Tool. This tool allows you to search, obtain, visualize, and download data about the Social Security system, with an emphasis on data and tables that focus on the DI program. You can see, for example, information about the finances of the entire system, detailed statistics about who receives benefits and how much, and a map of the states where disabled workers who receive benefits live.
We’ve pulled these data from the Social Security Administration’s 2014 Annual Statistical Supplement, an annual compendium of information about the Social Security system. While SSA’s interface can make it difficult to extract data, Urban’s new tool enables you to search the publication, visualize different data series, and download the images or data sets.
Do you want to know more about the number of Social Security beneficiaries? By using the search bar or choosing the “OASDI” filter (or, if you’re familiar with these data, selecting the exact table using the drop-down menu), you can easily plot the changes over time.
Do you want to know how many workers who receive disability benefits live in your state? You can use this tool to see a map, and download the data to look at the results in different ways.
In developing this tool, we wanted those interested in Social Security—be they researchers, journalists, decisionmakers, or even benefit recipients—to be able to directly see and access the data. We also wanted developers and analysts interested in how we built the tool to be able to explore our work; thus, we have posted the source code on GitHub to make it available to everyone.