How to Improve Knowledge of Social Security within Black and Hispanic Communities?

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Jean-Pierre Aubry, Boston College and Caitlin E. Coyle, University of Massachusetts Boston

Recent research shows that non-White individuals are generally less knowledgeable about Social Security than White individuals; and they are more likely to report having no source of information on Social Security and retirement. In addition, data suggest that non-White individuals are less likely to set up a my Social Security account – the only way for most people under age 60 to view their Social Security Statement. This project will investigate potential ways to encourage Black and Hispanic individuals to create my Social Security accounts and identify changes to the Statement that might improve its traction with them. SSA has an interest in this topic due to its focus on addressing disparities in service and communication.

While SSA-funded research has studied the effect of alternative wording in the Statement and obstacles to the use of my Social Security, none of the research has focused on racial disparities. Thus, the CRR proposes a mixed-methods research partnership with UMass Boston’s Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) to study these issues.