Limitations on Social Security Benefits for Black Retirees: Exploring Structural Racism’s Impact

In this report, we explore the factors related to structural racism that limit Social Security benefits and show how eliminating racial disparities in various areas could increase benefits paid to Black retirees and promote racial equity in retirement benefits. Using the Urban Institute’s Dynamic Simulation of Income Model 4 (DYNASIM4), we simulate education level, health status, marital history, employment, hourly earnings, and mortality under two different scenarios. Our baseline scenario replicates existing racial disparities in those outcomes. Our alternative scenario assumes that the systemic disadvantages facing Black people in those areas have been eliminated and projects demographic and economic outcomes for Black people using the same equations and relationships used to generate projections for white people.