Data Products » Restricted Data Overview

HRS/CMS Research Data

1. Overview

One of the main goals of the Health and Retirement Study is to understand the relationship between medical history and financial status, and how use of health care may change as people age. To assist in this effort, the HRS endeavors to obtain information about health care costs and diagnoses from Medicare records maintained by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration). The HRS asks all respondents who are eligible for Medicare to provide their identification numbers; over 80% of them consent to do so.

Access to New CMS Research Files Announced by MedRIC

The 1999-2012 Minimum Data Set (MDS), Outcomes and Assessment Information Set (OASIS), and 2006-2015 Part D Drug Event (PDE) research files are now available to Health and Retirement Study (HRS) restricted data users from Acumen/MedRIC. In preparation for obtaining these files, do the following:

  1. Make sure that your CMS DUA authorization for HRS-Linked Medicare files covers the data types (MDS, OASIS, and/or PDE) and data years needed. If your CMS DUA does not currently include these data, work with ResDAC to obtain CMS authorization.
  2. Verify the status of your HRS restricted data agreement. It must be valid and up-to-date.
  3. Complete the MedRIC Research Files Request Form, and email it to For MDS, OASIS, and/or PDE files, MedRIC will need copies of any RIF Specification workbooks completed as part of your CMS data request. MedRIC will use the ResDAC POC information in the Request Form to contact your ResDAC POC and verify your data authorizations.

Once your authorization is confirmed, MedRIC will generate a new data licensing agreement (DLA) or update an existing one. The DLA will then be sent to you or your designated DLA point of contact for signature(s). If you have any questions about MedRIC's MDS, OASIS, and/or PDE research files or about the process for obtaining them, please contact MedRIC support.

Acumen's CMS Linked Files

CMS Research Files Documentation Available years
Parts A and B Claims and Summary Files Standard (.zip)
Geographic (.zip)
Provider (.zip)
Part D Drug Event Files Data Dictionary (.xlsx) 2006-2015
Minimum Data Set (MDS) Assessment and Summary Files Data Dictionary 1999-2012
Outcomes and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) Assessment and Summary Files Standard
Medicaid Analytic Extracts (MAX) and Summary Files Standard

In order to use the Medicare records linked to HRS respondents, there are two linked approval processes that must be completed. As a first step, users should obtain approval from HRS for the use of restricted data (see below). As a second step, users should obtain a Data Use Agreement (DUA) from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), working through the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC). Formally, the request for a DUA from CMS must come from the program officer of the funding agency that supports your research. Requests for HRS-linked CMS data are processed and provided by the MedRIC division of Acumen LLC. Inquiries regarding data file specifics should be sent to Acumen/MedRIC.

2. Background Information for Prospective Applicants

3. Parallel Application Procedures...

3a. Negotiating a CMS Data Use Agreement

  1. User applies to HRS for restricted data approval (see below).
  2. While application is under review by HRS, user completes a data request packet (New Use Request) for CMS. A complete description of the required documentation can be found at the ResDAC Requesting CMS's Identifiable Data Files (RIFs) - New Use Requests page: (
  3. User receives PRELIMINARY approval from HRS.
  4. User finalizes CMS data request packet, incorporating data plan approved by HRS, and sends all paperwork, including HRS approval, to ResDAC.
  5. ResDAC verifies, completes, and returns the DUA to the researcher to obtain funding agency signoff
  6. Funding agency signs off on the request and forwards to CMS.
  7. CMS approves data request and notifies user, MedRIC/Acumen, and HRS.
  8. MedRIC processes request and distributes data to user. See the document MedRIC Fee Structure and Data Distribution Process for a description of the required licensing fees.
  9. HRS provides user with ID cross-reference file (encrypted) that links respondents to the record set created by Acumen.

3b. Negotiating an HRS Restricted Data Agreement

Eligibility rules and the procedures to be followed in negotiating a Restricted Data Agreement are described in detail on the Restricted Data section of the HRS Web site. In summary, a successful restricted data agreement requires:

  1. Affiliation with an institution with an DHHS-certified Human Subjects Review Process, known as a Federal Wide Assurance
  2. Current Receipt of Federal Research Funds
  3. Restricted CMS Data Products Order Form
  4. Written Research Proposal
  5. Restricted Data Protection Plan
  6. Human Subjects Review (either Full Board or Expedited)
  7. Confidentiality Agreement Restricting Disclosure and Use of Restricted Data from The Health and Retirement Study

4. Questions

All questions—administrative, procedural, and technical—related to HRS Restricted Datasets should be sent via electronic mail to HRS Restricted Data Applications Processing. You may also reach us via fax, courier, or postal mail.

Contact Information
Electronic Mail HRS Restricted Data Applications Processing (
Fax 734.647.1186
Postal Address HRS Restricted Data Application Processing
Survey Research Center
P.O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1248
Courier Address HRS Restricted Data Application Processing
Survey Research Center
426 Thompson Street, Room 3410
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-2321

Note: Include the HRS Project Number on all correspondence.