Last week, for the first time, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released information on the number of beneficiaries who died in 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic began. There were nearly 400,000 more beneficiary deaths in 2020 than the agency tabulated for 2019, representing a 17 percent year-over-year increase.
Double-digit percentage increases, year-over-year, were found for all beneficiary groups including retirees, spouses, widows, and the disabled.
SSA’s statistics almost certainly reflect the concentration of COVID-19 deaths among the populations the agency serves. The CDC’s death data, which includes all individuals and not just Social Security beneficiaries, indicates about 500,000 more deaths occurred in the United States in 2020 than in 2019. The CDC estimates that approximately 375,000 deaths in 2020 were due to COVID-19.