SEER-Medicare: Required Documents & Instructions for Submitting Applications

Please be aware that in compliance with CMS, we no longer release SEER-Medicare data outside the USA.

Instructions for Submitting an Application

Release of SEER-Medicare data is project specific. You must have an approved application in order to access these files.

The materials for the application packet should be sent to the SEER-Medicare contact as email attachments. Please submit one application and corresponding documentation per email. The required documents are:

  1. Application form (DOCX, 33 KB)

    This form has been developed to collect all information necessary to process a data request. In order to facilitate the review process, you must complete all sections. Incomplete applications will be delayed. The description of your project (Section II-C) must include:

    • statement of main hypothesis/specific research question;
    • description of study subjects and cancer sites/phases to be included in the analysis;
    • brief explanation of how key components of the study will be obtained/identified within the cancer and/or claims data - specifically:
      • cohort selection criteria,
      • covariates, and
      • outcomes;
    • a list of requested files and how each will be used (for example: MEDPAR will be used..., NCH will be used...);
    • how the 5% population (non-cancer and/or cancer) will be used, if requested;
    • description of the personnel involved; and
    • timeline for completion.
    • References can be included, if relevant.

    Researchers may only access the SEER-Medicare files to work on the project as described in project description. Any other analysis must be submitted for approval prior to beginning the work.

    An instructional mock application can be obtained upon request.

    Please note: No investigator can request the entire database.

  2. SEER-Medicare Data Use Agreement (DUA) (PDF, 180 KB)

    This document lists the terms the investigator must agree to in order to receive access to the SEER-Medicare linked data. Principal Investigators are responsible for monitoring / controlling all access to the SEER-Medicare linked data In the case of students and fellows, the department chair or advisor from the student's academic institution must sign the DUA and submit the application as the Principal Investigator.

    The Principal Investigator should have all staff that will access these files sign the DUA for their records. If other personnel (e.g. IT staff) will be supervising the storage of the data, they must sign a CUSTODIAN DUA, which is available from the SEER-Medicare contact.

    Cloud Storage services do not meet privacy rules and are not acceptable for the storage of SEER-Medicare data.

  3. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval

    Please provide documentation of the determination of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of your local institution. The title on the IRB approval must correspond with the title on the SEER-Medicare data request. For more information, please see IRB approval and HIPAA Regulations.

  4. Request form (DOCX, 20 KB) for Restricted Variables (if applicable)

    Restricted variables are not routinely released. If an investigator believes these variables are essential to their research, they must complete, sign and submit a request form. Requests for restricted variables usually must be approved by the Principal Investigator of each SEER Registry. Please see Privacy and Confidentiality Issues.

  5. Funder letter (if applicable)

    If your organization is a consulting firm, contractor, or pharmaceutical company, or your project is funded by one of these entities, your application must include information about the funding source. The application packet must include a letter from the funder indicating that you are free to work and publish your findings without limitations by the funder. This letter must be on company letterhead.

All requests for SEER-Medicare data must be reviewed and approved before any data can be purchased.

NOTE: There is increased interest in using SEER-Medicare data for mapping of cancer incidence, treatment, and survival. If you plan to map data at any resolution or report on only one registry or state, please state this clearly in your proposal application. NCI is committed to protecting the privacy of the SEER registries, the hospitals and physicians, and, ultimately, the patients represented in the data. Requests to present data for a single registry must be approved by the Principal Investigator for that registry.

SEER Registries

NCI supports the SEER registries in their use of SEER-Medicare data for registry-conducted projects. Registry-conducted projects include use of SEER-Medicare data to assess the completeness of registry data or research analyses conducted by registry staff. NCI will provide data for registry-conducted projects without charge for up to 4 projects per year. This includes requests for updated data. Data released for registry-conducted projects should be maintained on the registry's institutional computer systems. Researchers from SEER registries who are requesting SEER-Medicare data as part of funded research, such as grants and contracts, will be required to reimburse IMS for the cost of acquiring the SEER-Medicare data.

SEER Investigators must submit to the SEER-Medicare contact:

  1. A letter from the SEER Principal Investigator for that registry stating that this is a registry-conducted project and that he/she is a collaborator on the project.
  2. A completed application form (DOCX, 33 KB) for incorporation into a master file of projects.
  3. A completed and signed SEER-Medicare Data Use Agreement (PDF, 180 KB).

The letters and proposal should be sent as e-mail attachments. All documents must be received before any files can be released.

Approval & Processing Time

Applications for SEER-Medicare linked data are reviewed by two separate groups, consecutively. The initial review team may provide questions /comments on the project, which will require a response and revision by the investigator. Once the initial review team is satisfied with the application, it is sent to the second review team. This process can take at least 6-8 weeks.

If the application includes a request for access to the restricted variables, the second review will be done by each registry. The SEER-Medicare contact will guide the requestor through this process. The registry review can take at least 8-10 weeks. The SEER-Medicare contact will follow up with each registry until the review is complete.

When the application is fully approved, IMS (NCI's programming contractor) will contact investigators to ensure they obtain all the data files needed for the analysis. Omissions and errors in ordering files are the responsibility of the investigator.

Preparing the data requires 2-4 weeks from receipt of payment, depending on the number of requests in the queue. See Cost of Acquiring SEER-Medicare Data for information about the fees charged to cover the cost of creating the data files.

Changes to Previously Approved Applications

Any change to a previous approved application must be approved before any work can begin. Please use the change form (DOCX, 14 KB) to request approval for any change, including changes in data storage.

Request for Additional Data

The 2020 SEER-Medicare linked data are not compatible with any previously released data. Investigators cannot request addition files from previous data releases nor can they combine previously released file years with files released in 2020. In order to add files and/or file years to an application approved prior to 2020, investigators will be required to submit a new application with all the required documentation. If approved, investigators will have to purchase all new files and destroy all previously received data. Investigators can opt to continue using previously obtained data until their project DUA expires.

Last Updated: 18 Feb, 2021