Director’s corner: spring 2021

The Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center held its annual researcher workshop on March 11-12, 2021. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting was virtual, using Zoom. Continuing our pattern of giving as many researchers as possible the chance to speak, we had 30 presentations, each followed with time for open discussion. In deference to the online format, we cut the discussions to half their normal length, allowing more breaks and afternoon-only sessions. Researchers have recently become much more familiar with online meetings — many academics have taught their classes online this academic year — and our open discussion periods were lively. The online format limits personal interactions but, of course, saves travel time. We were able to accommodate presentations from three participants in the United Kingdom and one from Australia.

Our workshop has only plenary sessions. The brevity of the time slots allows, nevertheless, coverage of a broad range of topics. For example, we had three sessions (out of 10 total) on Social Security Disability Insurance and three on retirement incentives and planning. We also had individual sessions on health trends and on well-being during retirement. And, we had specialized sessions on COVID-19 and international totalization agreements.

The MRDRC was delighted to welcome to the workshop Kilolo Kijakazi, SSA’s new deputy commissioner of the Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. She briefly addressed the meeting and talked about research topics of special interest in the coming year. We were delighted to have John Jankowski and Nancy Early from SSA join the meeting as well.

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