Community-engaged Research into the Barriers and Communication Preferences of Rural Populations

Published: 2024
Project ID: UM24-06


This qualitative research project will use in-depth interviews of rural residents to understand: a) service-related barriers to seeking government benefits in rural areas and communication preferences among rural residents; b) how service-related barriers and communication preferences vary by race/ethnicity, educational attainment; and c) how service perceptions and outcomes vary by sociodemographic, regional, and demographic characteristics.

The way SSA serves and communicates with both current and prospective beneficiaries can have a broad impact on communities, particularly if information is not available and/or accessible to specific populations. Unequal access to benefits due to lack of access/knowledge may contribute to income inequality in the U.S., an issue that may disproportionately impact those living in rural communities where a larger share of personal income is derived from Social Security and where the population is disproportionately OASDI program eligible. People with disabilities (16.9%), older adults (32.9%), and older adults with disabilities (40.0%) are all more prevalent in nonmetro, rural counties compared to metro counties (where the rates are 14.1%, 28.6%, and 35.9%, respectively) (author calculations of ACS estimates).