Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 1

(released February 2020)
by Mark J. Warshawsky

by T. Lynn Fisher and John Jankowski

This article provides an overview of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC) and the Disability Research Consortium (DRC) from the Social Security Administration's perspective, including a brief history of the development of the consortia, a discussion of their aims, and some thoughts on the future of extramural retirement- and disability-related research. The RRC and DRC planned and conducted research to develop information to assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding Social Security, retirement, and disability issues. Both consortia have been remarkably successful extramural research ventures that have expanded and advanced the knowledge base, trained new scholars to become the next generation of subject-matter experts, and provided objective, research-based input to the policymaking process.

by Steven A. Sass

This article reviews the research contributions of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College in its second 10 years of operation (2008–2017) and the implications of those findings for Social Security and retirement policy. The article highlights a number of studies on a variety of topics grouped into three broad and forward-looking categories: (1) the Social Security program and its role in retirement security, (2) private retirement saving and its role in retirement security, and (3) the medical risks and health expenditures faced by an aging population. The studies address issues such as the effects associated with labor force patterns, changes in the nation's retirement system, and growing life spans. In its 20 years, the center's contributions have expanded both the breadth and the depth of knowledge on issues relevant to retirement security in general and Social Security in particular.

by John Laitner, Eric French, Alan L. Gustman, Michael D. Hurd, Olivia S. Mitchell, Kathleen J. Mullen, and Susan C. Barnes

In 1998, the Social Security Administration established the Retirement Research Consortium to encourage research on topics related to Social Security and the well-being of older Americans, and to foster communication between the academic and policy communities. The Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) participated in the Consortium from its inception until 2019, when the MRRC expanded and became the Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center. This article surveys a selection of the MRRC's output over its second 10 years (2008–2017), summarizes its innovative use of new data sources, and highlights several key themes in the center's research contributions.

by Jeffrey Brown, James Choi, Courtney Coile, and Richard Woodbury

Beginning in September 2003, the Retirement Research Center at the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted a coordinated series of investigations on Social Security in an environment of continually changing demographics, health trends, longevity, labor markets, economic conditions, and other factors. The Center has supported extensive collaborative research over a multiyear horizon to achieve a more fully integrated understanding of Social Security's challenges and the changing environment in which it operates. This article highlights the key findings of the studies completed by the Center in the last 5 years.

by Gina A. Livermore, Jody Schimmel Hyde, Yonatan Ben-Shalom, Todd Honeycutt, and David C. Stapleton

This article summarizes findings from selected research conducted under the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Research Consortium (DRC) at the Mathematica Center for Studying Disability Policy. Mathematica researchers, often in collaboration with SSA and other research institutions, have conducted studies addressing five broad topic areas. Those topics are Social Security Disability Insurance applicants and their potential ability to remain in the labor force; factors affecting participation in the federal disability programs; the characteristics, well-being, and employment of disability program participants; special populations of people with disabilities; and access to health insurance for people with disabilities. The studies highlight how the DRC has supported a broad range of rigorous, policy-relevant research and made important contributions to the body of knowledge on those topics.

by David Autor, Nicole Maestas, and Richard Woodbury

From 2012 through 2018, the Disability Research Center (DRC) at the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted studies on issues related to the well-being of people with disabilities who are current or potential participants in the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. This article reviews the Center's research activities, examining topics such as program enrollment trends and determinants, application and screening processes, labor force participation, and interactions between SSA and other programs for people with disabilities.