Funding Opportunity Number: SSA-ORP-09-1

This announcement is no longer open.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announces the availability of grant funds to support the FLRC that will serve as a national resource fostering innovative research and development on how to encourage savings through greater financial literacy, being cognizant that Social Security income is a fundamental source of retirement savings for many, and thus a cornerstone of SSA’s involvement.

Social Security benefits are a key foundation in providing income security for millions of Americans. However, they are intended to complement other sources of income wherever feasible, such as pensions, tax-deferred retirement savings accounts or personal savings. The current economic climate means that many Americans are now in danger of having insufficient savings for retirement and other life events. This situation occurs at a time when workers also need to take increasing responsibility for their savings decisions as many employers are moving from defined benefit to defined contribution plans.

As described in the new SSA Agency Strategic Plan, we believe SSA has a special responsibility to help Americans of all working ages to understand the role of Social Security benefits and the need for them to save as they plan for retirement and other life events. More fundamentally, we also need to educate the public about the role of Social Security as one of the foundations of household income in the event of retirement, disability or death. This includes a focus on key decisions such as when to stop working and when to take retirement benefits.

The Financial Literacy Research Consortium (FLRC) will be an innovative, non-partisan multidisciplinary research and development initiative to develop products to better inform the public about key financial literacy topics related to retirement savings and planning. We are interested in developing products – such as internet tools as well as print materials - that help foster retirement and other savings strategies at all stages of the life cycle. Products may be tailored to new entrants to the workforce, mid-career workers, those approaching retirement, and those in retirement who must successfully manage retirement assets. In addition, as part of the FLRC, we are seeking some (but not exclusive) focus on educational products to help low and moderate income populations successfully plan and save for retirement and other life events, as well as products that improve understanding of Social Security’s programs. We are also interested in potentially evaluating optimal distributional channels for some or many of these products.

Due to our existing relationship with the public, SSA is uniquely positioned to encourage saving. We have over 1,300 field offices across the country, a website that received over 88 million visits in 2008, a Social Security Statement that is sent to approximately 150 million workers every year and professional public affairs staff around the country. SSA may distribute FLRC products (or revised products) to better inform the public about retirement savings topics. In addition, products developed by the FLRC may be of value to the broader savings and retirement planning community and shall be made available to the public by the FLRC.

As authorized under section 1110 of the Social Security Act, SSA announces the solicitation of applications for a cooperative agreement to compete a Financial Literacy Research Consortium to help inform the public about financial literacy and savings. In the first year, the Consortium will be composed of no more than two research centers. The centers will have a combined annual budget of approximately $5.0 million. SSA expects to fund the centers for a period of 5 years, contingent on an annual review process and continued availability of funds.