FY25 Research Proposal Call

On this page, there are details on submission deadlines, proposal guidelines, budget, and a link to SSA’s FY25 Focal Area List (pdf).

MRDRC submission deadlines

Monday, April 8 (Eastern):

Phase I proposals are due. Follow this link to upload proposals.

Monday, May 6, 8 p.m. (Eastern):

Phase II proposals (by invitation only) are due.


Monday, May 20, 8 p.m. (Eastern):

Phase II detailed budgets with justifications and institutional letters of commitment are due.

Proposal guidelines

Topics of interest

All proposed research and activities must be relevant to at least one of Social Security Administration’s (SSA) program areas or populations: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). Disability Insurance (DI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Some research may speak directly to specific programs and the distributional, behavioral, equity or adequacy issues related to those programs. Proposed research activities may employ a variety of approaches to contribute to the evidence base for policy, including qualitative, descriptive and causal studies, simulations, and international comparisons.

SSA has a specific interest in research topics that are more focused, as detailed in the Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) Focal Area List document.

A major recurring theme across all focus areas is research that seeks to provide better support for communities that are traditionally under-served. This includes studies dedicated to advancing racial equity as well as research aimed at assisting other marginalized groups, such as individuals in rural areas or those facing long-term poverty.

We also expect that there will be a sustained interest in examining the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce and on the programs and beneficiaries of the SSA.

The FY25 focal areas are:

  • Understanding Service Needs and Improving Service Delivery
  • Studying Causes and Inequities of Overpayment and Underpayment
  • Addressing Barriers to Disability and SSI Programs Participation and Processes
  • Understanding and Improving Communication
  • Identifying Disparities by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex
  • Examining Economic Security of Program Applicants and Beneficiaries
  • Addressing Employment Barriers for People with Disabilities

For more details on specific research questions within focal areas, see the SSA’s FY25 Focal Area List (pdf). See also SSA’s scoring criteria for FY25 proposals.

SSA will also back broader foundational research. For instance, research examining shifts in mortality, fertility, immigration, health outcomes, and marital status could aid in assessing policies relevant to all SSA programs. However, proposals that are foundational in nature must clearly articulate their relevance to the SSA’s interests, particularly in relation to policy.

Formatting guidelines

Proposals should be formatted using the Word template sent with MRDRC’s email announcement. The template uses SSA’s required format. Do not change font size or line spacing.

  • Use 12 point, Times New Roman;
  • Double spaced;
  • One-inch margins;
  • No more than SIX pages;
  • Figures/tables are included in the page count and will decrease the amount of room for text.

Abstracts for all funded projects will be publicly posted. They should be written for a nontechnical audience and should clearly identify the importance and implications of the research project for SSA.

Budget guidance

Typically, the budget for each MRDRC project should be in increments of $25,000, up to a maximum of $125,000. However, please consider diversity guidance below when determining the budget.

The yearly selection process is structured in three phases:

  1. In Phase I, researchers submit their project proposals and indicate the proposed budget amount (a detailed budget is not necessary at this initial phase). MRDRC will review these proposals and choose which ones will be a part of its submission to SSA. MRDRC cannot increase the Phase I initial total budget request amount at later stages. Instead, MRDRC might ask for a decrease in the budget before moving into Phase II.
  2. In Phase II, MRDRC notifies the researchers whose proposals have been selected to be included in the Center’s proposal to the SSA and provides feedback. The researchers are then expected to submit final drafts of their proposals along with a detailed budget.
  3. Phase III involves MRDRC submitting the overall Center proposal to the SSA. Normally, the SSA will announce which individual projects it has decided to fund in late September.

The total budget you propose makes a difference for the decisions by both MRDRC and SSA. MRDRC seeks a variety of project sizes in its funding portfolio. In all cases, your proposed budget should accurately reflect the scope of your project’s work.

Additionally, the same researcher or research team is welcome to submit multiple project proposals to MRDRC.

Diversity: SSA is expected to consider institutional diversity of project teams and methodological diversity across projects when choosing which projects to fund. Accordingly, budgets up to $175,000 are available if a project includes

  • team member(s) from an HBCU and/or non-R1 MSI (list included); or
  • community-engaged research design or a substantial community-engaged dissemination component.

Further budget details

The Phase I submission form includes a field to indicate the initial total budget request amount. This amount should include indirect costs. Detailed budgets will not be required until Phase II.

Research teams should consult with the staff member who will be preparing the detailed Phase II budget prior to submitting their Phase I proposal. Budgets should be based on actual costs to conduct the proposed project.

Cost share requirement: SSA has a 5% cost share requirement. MRDRC will fund the cost share requirement for any project based at U-M.

Cheri Brooks, [email protected], can address further budget questions.