The data in this report are derived from the Master Beneficiary Record, the principal administrative file of Social Security beneficiaries. The national ZIP + 4 file produced by the U.S. Postal Service is used to designate the beneficiary’s state and county. The ZIP + 4 file, which specifies counties in terms of 9-digit ZIP Codes, provides a more accurate designation of counties where ZIP Code areas cross county boundaries than
the data available in the Master Beneficiary Record.
The monthly benefit reported is the amount Social Security beneficiaries were paid for the month of December. The monthly benefit is the amount payable after any reductions. Some Social Security beneficiaries have a representative payee—a person designated by the Social Security Administration to receive their monthly benefit when such action is in the beneficiary’s best interest. About 3 percent of all adult beneficiaries and virtually all child beneficiaries under age 18 have representative payees.
For most children, the representative payee is the parent with whom the child resides. For beneficiaries with representative payees, the state and county designations are those of the representative payees, not those of the beneficiaries. To avoid disclosure of the reason for eligibility of small groups and the amount of benefits received, a special procedure (controlled rounding) has been used in preparing the dataset. Under this procedure, county data on the number of persons are changed according to the following formula:
1. If the number is evenly divisible by 5 (ends in 0 or 5), then the numbers are not changed.
2. Otherwise, the number is rounded either to the next higher multiple of 5 or the next lower multiple of 5, in such a way that the difference between each rounded and unrounded cell value, each rounded and unrounded row total, and each rounded and unrounded column total is less than 5.
Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia contain at least one independent city that is not part of a county. For these states, the counties are listed in alphabetical order, followed by the independent cities in alphabetical order.