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Sad Fact: 400,000 More Social Security Receipts Died in 2020 Than in 2019

Image: Creative Commons.

For obvious reasons, many more older Americans died in 2020 than they do in a typical year. And now, new data shows just how stark that difference is.

According to Social Security Administration data cited by The Hill, there were 400,000 more deaths of Social Security recipients in 2020 than there had been in 2019, an increase of 17 percent.

This was attributed mostly, of course, to the coronavirus pandemic, which began in the U.S. in early 2020.

The data found double-digit increases for “all beneficiary groups,” including retirees, spouses, widows, and the disabled.

The CDC, per The Hill, has said that overall, about 500,000 more deaths happened in 2020 compared to 2019.

There is more than to be gleaned from the data, per The Hill.

“SSA’s death data offer federal researchers additional ways to study the effects of COVID-19 because it can be linked to all elements in SSA’s databases including benefit amounts, past earnings, race/ethnicity, and diagnosis codes for disabled beneficiaries,” author David Weaver wrote for The Hill. “Federal researchers, who have access to the raw data, could potentially unlock death patterns in the data that would help policymakers understand the probable effects of COVID-19 on groups with different disabling conditions and socioeconomic status.”

The op-ed also argued for what can be gleaned from the data when it comes to vaccine policy.

“Beyond research, and perhaps of more importance, the new data highlight the need for the Biden administration to communicate with Social Security beneficiaries regarding developments in vaccine policy. For example, the CDC recently developed new recommendations about vaccines for immunocompromised individuals. Many of these individuals will, no doubt, be on SSA’s disability rolls, and some effort to communicate with these beneficiaries about the new guidelines would be in the public’s interest.”

The piece went on to argue about how the Biden Administration should make its plans for a strategy involving booster shots.

“The administration needs to begin — right now — formulating a coherent, large-scale, and well-organized outreach campaign regarding information about booster vaccinations. The information campaign should involve SSA because its beneficiaries will be the focus of possible booster shots in the fall and winter and because SSA, unlike the CDC, FDA, or even CMS, has extensive and direct contact with the American public,” Weaver wrote.

“Given the high levels of immune responses observed, a booster dose given within six to twelve months after the primary vaccination schedule may help maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19,”  Pfizer and BioNTech said in a statement this week, about the need for booster shots of their vaccine later this year.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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