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For all persons, INCIRA reports all income received from Individual Retirement Accounts, IRAs, Keogh Account, or 401K, during the current calendar year. Using the reported income information, annual income amounts were then edited and imputed for every record on the full-year file. Please refer to the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS for more information on the collection, editing (including top- and bottom-coding), and imputation of income variables in MEPS, as well as changes to the target population for income data collection over time. Users may also be interested in the data quality flag, QINCIRA, which reports the editing methods used for INCIRA.

If respondents needed more information about what kinds of income to report as Individual Retirement Account income, they were provided with the additional guidance:

An Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, is a personal retirement plan whereby a limited amount of annual earnings may be invested, as in mutual funds or a savings account, with the investment money and its earnings being tax-free until retirement. Payments from these accounts must be reported on the tax filer's income tax return.

Payments include regular distributions, early distributions, rollovers, and any other money or property the person received from his/her IRA account or annuity. These amounts can be found on form 1099-R.

A retirement plan for self-employed persons and certain groups of employees whereby a limited amount of annual earnings may be invested, as in mutual funds or a savings account, with the invested money and its earnings being tax-free until retirement. These amounts can be found on form 1099-R.

A 401(k) is an optional retirement plan supported by many companies. This money is taken out and invested before the employee's paycheck is taxed. The plan is set up by a qualified employer with the primary contributions being deposited by the employee. Often there is a company matching plan where they will also contribute a percentage of the money the employee contributed. While the 401(k) continues to grow, taxes will not be paid on it. When the employee withdraws the money at retirement, he/she will be taxed on the amount in the account. There is a penalty to remove the money prior to retirement age; however, many plans allow the employee to borrow money using the plan as collateral or remove the money without penalty in certain emergencies. These amounts can be found on from 1099-R."

Information on the IPUMS defined-universe for this variable 

Users may wish to note that, while IPUMS defines the universe for this variable as all persons, certain persons were explicitly targeted to answer questions about specific income sources. In addition to the target population of persons who were asked specifically about IRA income, all persons in the household were eligible to list additional income from "other" sources, which includes income from sources previously asked about in the survey (such as IRA income). It is unclear if IRA income reported as an "other" income source is counted in IRA income or "other" income. Because all persons could technically report IRA income via the "other" income questionnaire item, IPUMS staff report the universe for INCIRA as being "All Persons." Users may also wish to note that in the original public use MEPS data files, no income variables have cases explicitly coded as out of universe; both persons who directly report earning zero dollars of income from a source and persons who are not explicitly asked about that income source have values of zero.


INCIRA is an 8-digit numeric variable with 2 implied decimals. That is, values of 01234567 should be interpreted as 12345.67. The command files delivered with IPUMS extracts automatically divide BMIKID by 10, so no further adjustment is needed.

999999.96: Not in Universe
999999.97: Unknown-refused
999999.98: Unknown-not ascertained
999999.99: Unknown-don't know


While all persons could report IRA income regardless of age and tax filing status if they reported it as an "other" income source, certain persons were explicitly asked questions about IRA income. The persons specifically targeted to answer these questions changes over time, with an expansion of the target population beginning in 2002. For more information on how income data were collected by MEPS and changes to the target population for these questions over time, please see the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS.

Beginning to 1999, persons could only report income in full dollar amounts. Prior to 1999, persons could report income in dollars and cents.


  • 1996-2021: All persons.


  • 1996-2021