Social Security: Latest COVID Death Data Highlights These Reforms Are Needed Most

Social security and medicare concept with social security card and pile of money.
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The pandemic has taken a toll on Americans in many ways and caused 1.02 million deaths nationwide. Now, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released beneficiary death information for 2021, which shows that more needs to be done to appropriately protect certain groups of Americans. 

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The Hill reports that the SSA data shows 840,000 more beneficiary deaths for the 2020-2021 period, at 5.6 million beneficiaries — this represents a 17.7% increase from the 2018-2019 period.

According to The Hill, the regulators need to pay attention to Social Security’s largest group of disability beneficiaries — disabled workers — those who worked in Social Security-covered employment prior to becoming disabled. Indeed, the annual death rate for this group of beneficiaries increased 16.9% from the 2018-2019 period to the 2020-2021 period.

In addition, the Disabled Adult Child (DAC) beneficiaries group saw its number of deaths increase by 27.6%.

The Hill notes that this most recent data underscores the “devastating effects of COVID-19 on individuals with underlying health problems” and offers a few recommendations.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  says that to be eligible for a second booster shot, Americans have to be 50 years and older, or age 12 and older, if they are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

In turn, The Hill notes that “it would be useful for the CDC to determine whether the science at least supports additional booster eligibility for adult Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability recipients under the age of 50,” as many SSA disability beneficiaries have conditions the CDC deems dangerous with COVID.

Americans most at risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19 strongly overlap with the populations served by SSA.

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As such, The Hill recommends that the administration communicates better with SSA beneficiaries, for example by sending letters explaining the benefits of vaccines and boosters.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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