How Will COVID-19 Excess Mortality Affect Social Security Benefit Payouts?

Published: 2022
Project ID: UM22-05


This project will estimate the impact of excess mortality resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic on projected Social Security benefits and elderly income. COVID-19 mortality is higher at older ages and highest among those with pre-existing health conditions, so some people who have died would likely have died soon. Meanwhile, with COVID-19 disproportionately affecting men, reduced retired-worked benefits will be offset by increased survivor benefits, while elder poverty is likely to rise. Importantly, with excess mortality concentrated at lower socioeconomic levels, aggregate benefits will fall by less, while inequality in lifetime benefits will rise. The project will make use of administrative data matched with several survey data sources, death records, and methods developed by the investigators in prior research in order to draw on as much information as possible about the links among mortality risk, socioeconomic status, and marital status.  It will integrate emerging epidemiological models of the relationship between COVID-19 mortality and age, gender, and comorbidities.