Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth rate of retired Americans collecting Social Security has seen a sharp decline. One possible explanation is the number of deaths from Covid-19 among the elderly.
In March, the number of people who received retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration rose by 900,000 to 46.4 million, "the smallest year-over-year gain since April 2009.
The Office of the Chief Actuary at the government agency stated that "it is still too early to assess the impact from Covid-19, the year-over-year change appears to reflect excess deaths."
In the past decade, the number of Social Security beneficiaries has risen, especially during economic downturns when people are forced into retirement. This may offer an explanation to why many of the baby boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—have played a huge role in the rise of collections from the SSA.
Although it is too early to explain the exact reason for the sharp decline in Social Security collections, about 447,000 people who died from Covid-19 were 65 or older, making up about 80% of the total deaths.
See Alex Tanzi, Social Security Sees Slowdown in Retiree Rolls Amid Covid Deaths, Bloomberg Law, May 3, 2021.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.