COVID-19 has had a major impact on lives across the globe. Large portions of the population are staying at home and only venturing out for essential needs. Health care systems are overwhelmed and strained for resources, while the economy has suffered steep declines.  In addition, unemployment filings have set new records and prospects for future employment are uncertain.  The combination of these factors and more are having far reaching consequences on retirement and related risks individuals will face.  

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) recently published a report that explored the impact of COVID-19 on a variety of retirement related risks. The report, “Impact of COVID-19 on Retirement Risks”, was informed by an online conversation the SOA initiated through the listserv it maintains for its Committee on Post-Retirement Needs and Risks, and its Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program.

As a follow-up, the SOA is issuing this call for essays to further explore the impact of COVID-19 on retirement.  In issuing this call for essays, the SOA aims to gather perspectives, opinions and data on the short and long-term consequences of COVID-19 on retirement for a variety of stakeholders — individuals, employers, financial advisors, and others — and how these impacts will be felt both directly and indirectly.

Given the continuing desire for the SOA to provide the latest information about COVID-19, essays will be published as soon as possible after review with the plan to publish a formal collection later in the year.


As background, authors are strongly encouraged to read the SOA report referenced above and carefully review the risks described in each of its sections.

The major categories covered in the report are:

  • The Employer, 401(k) and Other Benefits
  • Distribution of Risk and Defined Benefit Plans
  • Social Safety Net Programs
  • Family
  • Financial Wellness and Personal Emergency Funds
  • Housing
  • Financial Advisers and Information Sources
  • Health Care and Long-Term Care
  • Work and Retirement Ages
  • Continuing-Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), Caregiving and Senior Housing Options

Authors are encouraged to explore any of the above topics in-depth or choose to address a combination of topics of interest. Authors should also feel free to interpret the topics either broadly or with specific applications in mind. Comments on the report are also welcome either within an essay or addressed separately.

The following are sample questions and issues for respondents to consider in crafting essays. The list below is neither exhaustive nor intended to be restrictive of other related areas:

  • How does the rapidly changing situation with COVID-19 affect work leading up to retirement and retirement planning? What are the best ways to balance the need to think about the rest-of-life issues with the challenges of today and tomorrow?
  • What areas of retirement may be different as a result of the experiences with COVID-19?
  • How might financial institutions rethink retirement products as a result of COVID-19?
  • What new planning considerations should be taken into account to better adapt and respond to retirement issues as a result of not only COVID-19, but other once in a lifetime events-often called “black swan” events–that seemingly occur without warning and create major disruptions?
  • What will happen to long-term care institutions once the crisis is over?  Will new models for the integration of care and living arrangements emerge?
  • Will the result of the crisis accelerate/reinforce a trend toward innovative housing arrangements whenever possible for retirement?
  • What are the implications for savings and investments for retirement (emergency fund savings, retirement savings, paying long-term care premiums)?
  • Will there be a rethinking of what is an appropriate emergency fund in light of COVID-19? Will employers and other institutions take a more active role in encouraging and supporting the accumulation of emergency funds?
  • What has been the role of financial planners and other advisers in saving and investment decisions during the crisis? Did individuals consult them and consider their advice?   What were the differences in decision-making between people with a financial advisor and those without?
  • How do responses/reactions during the current crisis compare to those during and after the Great Recession in a retirement context?
  • Is it likely that furloughs, layoffs, and job loss as a result of COVID-19 will lead to a change in anticipated retirement timing? Among whom? What challenges does this raise?
  • How will the impact of COVID-19 on retirement vary based on the types and levels of debt individuals are carrying? What is the impact close to retirement versus for those already retired?
  • What has been observed about individuals withdrawing money from 401(k)s and other savings vehicles to help them through the COVID-19 period? What is the impact of such withdrawals? Similarly, what information is available about whether savings in 401(k)s and other vehicles have continued or changed during the COVID-19 period?  Is there a longer-term impact of changes made?
  • How have parents and grandparents been helping their children/grandchildren financially during the crisis and how is it impacting retirement? What are other impacts to families and households?


The deadline for submissions is May 29, 2020. However, we are requesting submissions as soon as possible in keeping with the continuing desire for the SOA to provide the latest information about COVID-19. Essays will be published as soon as possible (including before the submission deadline) with the plan to publish a formal collection later in the year.

Length and Instructions for Submission

Essays must be submitted in English with a desired length of between 500 to 2,500 words. There is no requirement for formal or extensive footnoting.

Author information must be submitted with the essay and include name; credentials or designations (if appropriate); title; organization/company; e-mail address; and phone number. Please provide all author information at the beginning of the essay.

Essays that contain any overt political statements, commercial content, and other inappropriate material will not be accepted. Articles must comply with the SOA’s antitrust guidelines.

Please submit your essay via e–mail to:

Barbara Scott, Sr. Research Administrator
Society of Actuaries

Publication and Presentation

Depending on how many essays are received and the diversity among the topic areas, a suitable format for electronic publication and dissemination will be selected.  Essays may also be presented at an SOA meeting, webcast, or other professional development event.

In addition, other venues for publication or presentation of the ideas outside of the SOA will be considered. It is hoped that publication of the collected essays will further knowledge and stimulate discussion as well as promote future efforts in this area.

Rights Granted

Please understand that by submitting an essay for consideration, the essay author(s) is granting to the Society of Actuaries an unlimited license to print or republish their essay, with proper attribution given to the author(s).


Please direct any questions regarding this Call for Essays to:

Steven Siegel, Sr. Research Actuary
Society of Actuaries