Skip to Main Content

Limited Data Set (LDS) Files

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) makes Limited Data Set (LDS) files available to researchers as allowed by federal laws and regulations as well as CMS policy. LDS files contain beneficiary-level health information and are considered identifiable files, but they do not contain specific direct identifiers as defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. All disclosures of LDS files require a signed LDS Data Use Agreement (DUA) between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Requestor. For additional information on available LDS files, please visit the CMS LDS website at https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Files-for-Order/LimitedDataSets/index.html

LDS requestors are required to provide a research purpose as part of their request. The research purpose must relate to projects that could improve the U.S. healthcare delivery system. This includes projects related to improving the quality of life for CMS beneficiaries or improving the administration of CMS programs, including payment related projects and the creation of analytical reports. In addition, these research projects must contribute to generalizable knowledge. Please note that, since CMS publishes comments in the Federal Register, if you are requesting MedPAR files solely for the purpose of commenting on rulemaking, that meets the generalizable knowledge requirement. 

Please follow the processes below to request a new LDS DUA or add LDS files to an existing LDS DUA.

New LDS Request

1.    Complete a LDS Request Packet that consists of the following:

  • LDS request letter, with the following information:
    • Project title
    • Brief overview of the use of the data
    • A contact person’s name, organization, and e-mail address
  • LDS Worksheet
    • Use the LDS Worksheet to specify the files you are requesting.  The Worksheet will automatically calculate the cost for your request.
    • If reusing data files from another DUA for your organization, do not select those files on the LDS worksheet. However, please note there is a $600 administrative fee to reuse data. This fee is waived if new data files are being requested.
    • Please note: The runoff date for data in the quarterly files is different from the annual files. See https://www.resdac.org/resconnect/articles/1 for more information.
  • LDS DUA Form 0235L
    • Section 4 is where to list your requested file names and data years, and whether you are requesting a 5% sample or 100% of the file. If there are not enough rows to list all the files you need, please create and attach a continuation document listing the additional file names and data years and annotate this in one of the rows in Section 4 of DUA Form 0235L.
    • If reusing data files from another DUA for your organization, please also list these files in Section 4 of DUA Form 0235L.
    • A current list of available LDS files can be found here
  • LDS DUA Attachment A – Research Protocol
  • LDS DUA Attachment B only if you are requesting:
    • Standard Analytical Files (SAF) for 2012 or later, and/or
    • The NPI/UPIN Crosswalk.

2.    Print, sign, and scan LDS DUA forms (note: currently, we do not accept electronic signatures).

3.    Draft an email with the subject “New DUA-LDS < Requestor’s Organization Name>” and attach your LDS Request Packet (including signed DUA forms). If reusing data files from another DUA for your organization, include the files and years being requested and the number of the DUA from which you are reusing in the body of the email. It is not permissible to reuse data from another organization’s DUA.

4.    Send the email to the following contact:

  • If a CMS Sponsored Program/Awardee, Federal Grantee: Your CMS Contact or Federal Project Officer for them to submit on your behalf
  • All other researchers: DataUseAgreement@cms.hhs.gov.

5.    If your request is approved, the DUA team will notify you about how to submit your payment via www.pay.gov

Add LDS Files to an Existing LDS DUA

1.     Complete an LDS Update Packet that consists of the following:

  • DUA Update Form 0235U
  • LDS Worksheet
    • Use the LDS Worksheet to specify the files you are requesting.  The Worksheet will automatically calculate the cost for your request.
    • If reusing data files from another DUA for your organization, do not select those files on the LDS worksheet. However, please note there is a $600 administrative fee to reuse data. This fee is waived if new data files are being requested.
    • Please note: The runoff date for data in the quarterly files is different from the annual files. See https://www.resdac.org/resconnect/articles/1 for more information.
  • LDS DUA Attachment B only if you are requesting:
    • Standard Analytical Files (SAF) for 2012 or later, and/or
    • The NPI/UPIN Crosswalk. 

2.    Print, sign, and scan all forms in the LDS Request Packet (note: we currently do not accept electronic signatures) 

3.    Draft an email with the DUA number as the subject line and attach your LDS Update Packet. If reusing data from another DUA for your organization, please include the files and years being requested and the number of the DUA from which you are reusing in the body of the email.

4.    Send the email to following contact:

  • If a CMS Sponsored Program/Awardee, Federal Grantee, please submit to your CMS Contact or Federal Project Officer for them to submit on your behalf

Want to receive the latest news and updates for EPPE & DUAs? Sign up for the EPPE GovDelivery Subscription here.