Retirement Security Initiative
To help improve the retirement security of Americans, the Office of Retirement Policy produces, plans, and coordinates a body of research products that will help inform the public about retirement planning, including when to begin receiving Social Security benefits.
Our products focus on different retirement topics, based on the age and circumstances of the target audience. Below is some of the information the Social Security Administration has created to help workers plan for retirement.
Retirement Security Information for Workers
- Retirement Toolkit
Joint publication with Department of Labor and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—The Retirement Toolkit will help you understand which retirement decisions you need to make and at what age.
- When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits | Español
SSA Publication No. 05-10147
- Financial Literacy and Education Commission
As part of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, Social Security is working with a broad range of government agencies to inform the public about retirement planning options and develop ways to encourage all Americans to save. To learn more, visit www.mymoney.gov.
Externally Funded Research
Understanding America Study
The Understanding America Study (UAS) is a nationally representative Internet panel of over 6,000 respondents aged 18 and older. The University of Southern California's Center for Economic and Social Research administers the UAS, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) fund the study through a cooperative agreement. The UAS includes over 50 surveys on retirement planning, economic well-being, and psychological constructs, as well as most modules of the Health and Retirement Study.
Examples of research conducted using the UAS, include:
- Joanne Yoong, Lila Rabinovich, and Saw Htay-Wah, “What Do People Know About Social Security?” CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper Series, Paper No. 2015-022.
- Lila Rabinovich and Joanne Yoong, “How Do People Want to Learn About Social Security?” CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper Series, Paper No. 2015-021.
- Leandro Carvalho, Arie Kapteyn, and Htay-Wah Saw, “How Americans Manage their Finances,” CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper Series, Paper No. 2015-020.
Roybal Center for Health Decision Making and Financial Independence in Old Age
Congress created the Roybal Centers Program in 1992 to help translate social and behavioral research into practical applications for improving the health and well-being of older Americans. NIA currently maintains 13 Roybal Centers, and SSA and NIA jointly fund the “Roybal Center for Health Decision Making and Financial Independence in Old Age,” at the University of Southern California Center for Economic and Social Research.
An example of research conducted by the Roybal Center, includes:
- Lila Rabinovich, Janice Peterson, Barbara A. Smith, Tania Gutsche, and Mallory Montgomery, “Preparing for Retirement, Social Security Literacy and Information Preferences Among Hispanics: A Qualitative Study,” CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper Series, Paper No. 2016-012.
Minorities and Retirement Security Program
The Minorities and Retirement Security (MRS) Program is a discretionary grant program jointly administered by SSA and the Department of Education to increase the retirement security and financial literacy research capacity and output at Hispanic and Black Serving Institutions (HBSIs). The MRS Program provides grants to support research by graduate students and faculty mentors at HBSIs in the areas of retirement security, financial literacy, and financial decision-making within minority and low-income communities. The current five-year cooperative agreement runs from FY2014 through FY2018. For further information about the MRS Program, please visit the websites of the respective institutions:
- Chicago State University
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
- Hampton University
- University of Houston-Downtown
Intergovernmental Personnel Act
The Office of Retirement Policy also works with researchers under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) program. Researchers employed for at least 90 days in a career position at a state or local government agency, nonprofit organization, or university are eligible for temporary assignment to SSA under the IPA program. SSA negotiates an agreement with the individual's employer for salary and fringe benefits.
Examples of research conducted under the IPA program, include:
- Tamborini, Christopher R., Gayle L. Reznik, and Kenneth A. Couch. 2015. “Long-Term Impact of Divorce on Women's Earnings Across Multiple Divorce Windows: A Life Course Perspective.” Advances in Life Course Research 26: 44–59.
- Smith, Barbara A., and Kenneth A. Couch. 2014. “The Social Security Statement: Background, Implementation, and Recent Developments.” Social Security Bulletin 74(2): 1–25.
- Smith, Barbara A., and Kenneth A. Couch. 2014. “How Effective Is the Social Security Statement? Informing Younger Workers about Social Security.” Social Security Bulletin 74(4): 1–19.