University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Financial Security Awarded $3.1 Million for Research to Help Economically Vulnerable Families

The U.S. Social Security Administration is funding 15 major research projects investigating retirement and disability topics surrounding racial wealth, children and families, and the economic security of older adults.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Financial Security (CFS), as part of the Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC), has been awarded a fifth year of funding for $3.11 million from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

One of just four such centers in the country supported by the SSA, the UW-Madison’s CFS focuses  on the financial well-being of economically vulnerable families, households of color, older adults, people with disabilities, low-wealth households, and children.

“The events of recent years have intensified financial vulnerabilities of many people, especially the populations we are focused on studying and helping,” says Center for Financial Security Faculty Director Dr. J. Michael Collins, Fetzer Family Chair in the School of Human Ecology and Professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs, UW-Madison. “This federal support is critical to research that explores the impacts of COVID-19 and other economic factors that fuel disparities within disability, retirement and social insurance programs as well as the resulting policy implications.” 

This latest federal funding supports 15 major research studies nationwide, a third of which are led by University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty.

This fifth year of federal funding for the CFS renews support for mentored fellowships and for two training programs intent on building the research pipeline for underrepresented scholars in the retirement and disability research field: the Junior Scholar Intensive Training (JSIT) program and the Social Insurance Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

As part of this national consortium, the CFS will share research findings through newsletters, websites, social media, virtual and in-person collaborations, as well as seminars and conferences.

The RDRC is an extramural research collaboration. Projects receiving funding within the CFS RDRC for 2022-2023 include:

  • Disparities by Race/Ethnicity and Sex/Gender in SS(D)I Applications and Awards
  • Social Security Administration’s Growing Interest in the Child Tax Credit and Other Child Driven Income Support Programs
  • Parents of Children with Disabilities in Retirement: Economic Well-Being and Benefit Adequacy
  • The Effect of Public Policies on Work Disability: A Life course Perspective
  • Does Health Insurance Reduce Consumption Risk?
  • The Impacts of Racial Differences in Economic Challenges on Housing, Wealth, and Economic Security Among OASI Beneficiaries
  • COVID-19 Health Disparities and the Economic Security of Families with Children
  • Social Security Policy Design and Racial Wealth Disparities
  • Improving financial security for people with disabilities through ABLE accounts
  • The Long-run Effects of Workplace Injuries on Older Workers:  Earnings, SSDI, SSI, and Early Retirement
  • Financial Inclusion Across the United States
  • How Does the Death of a Partner During the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect the Economic Security of the Surviving Older Adult? Evidence From Credit Panel and Labor Force Participation Data
  • Pathways Into and Out of Homelessness: The Role of Frontline Workers to Promote Social Security Benefits Uptake and Housing Security for Adults 50 and Older Living in the Boston Area
  • Analyzing SSA Communication, Outreach and Service Delivery in a Laboratory of State Pension Fund Members: Comparisons of Best Practices for ASRS and SSA, Pre- and Post-Pandemic

For abstracts and PIs on these projects, please visit

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Center for Financial Security’s Retirement and Disability Research Center (CFS RDRC) is an applied research program that develops evidence to assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding issues in Social Security, retirement, and disability policy, especially related to economically vulnerable populations. The CFS RDRC incorporates diversity of viewpoints and disciplines, develops diverse emerging scholars, and generates research findings that are used in policy and practice. To learn more, visit