IRP Extramural Small Grant Program on Poverty, Retirement, and Disability Research: 2020–2021 Call for Applications – Due 1/26/20

Application Deadline: January 26, 2020, 11:59 p.m. CST

View/download full RFP in PDF format

About Grant

The Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), in collaboration with the Center for Financial Security (CFS), at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have funding to support the study of economically vulnerable populations related to poverty, retirement, and disability policy. Funded by a cooperative agreement between CFS and the Social Security Administration (SSA), this small grant program is designed to expand the reach of poverty research into issues related to retirement and disability policies and programs. Applicants can propose research projects that address any area of relevance to retirement and disability research. Issues and studies of special interest include:

  • Interactions between public assistance and social insurance over the life course;
  • The role of health, health insurance, and financial decisions in household financial security;
  • How economically vulnerable households combine work, pensions, and social insurance over the life course; and
  • Low-net-wealth households and retirement well-being, including the role of housing wealth, saving, and debt.

Studies may be quantitative or qualitative in nature and may employ a mix of research designs and analytic methods.

About IRP

IRP is a center for interdisciplinary research into the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality and the impact of related policies and programs. As the National Poverty Research Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, IRP coordinates the U.S. Collaborative of Poverty Centers (CPC) in an integrated set of activities with the ultimate goal of improving the effectiveness of public policies to reduce poverty and inequality and their impacts on the well-being of the American people.

About CFS

CFS is a multidisciplinary research center that conducts applied research in household finance, consumer behavior, and financial security over the life course with an emphasis on informing policy and practice with evidence-based strategies. As a designated center within the Social Security Administration Retirement and Disability Research Consortium (RDRC), CFS oversees research, dissemination, and training programs, which develop evidence that assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding issues in Social Security, retirement, and disability policy, especially related to economically vulnerable populations.



Applicants must be Ph.D.-holding, U.S.-based scholars at the time of application. Individuals not associated with a university (domestic or foreign) and foreign entities are ineligible for awards made under this announcement. Junior faculty are particularly encouraged to apply. All proposals that address Social Security, retirement, and disability topics, especially related to economically vulnerable populations, are eligible for funding.

Contract Period

Research support is available for up to 12 months from the award date beginning as early as Summer 2020.


The small grants will provide funding up to $36,000. This funding is intended as seed money for a larger project related to Social Security and disability research. Project investigators can use these smaller projects to develop ideas for submission to future CFS RDRC funding cycles for research projects. Indirect costs are capped at 10% of modified total direct costs for applicants submitting through their institutions.


Receipt of a grant will require a commitment to:

  • Submit brief quarterly progress reports of work accomplished during the preceding three months on July 15, 2020; October 15, 2020; January 15, 2021; April 15, 2021 to (template will be provided);
  • Submit a draft paper at the end of the month nine months from project start date to; and
  • Submit a final working paper at the end of the month of the last quarter of the contract period to

Application Instructions

Proposals should be submitted electronically to the application form by January 26, 2020.

Applicants should provide the following materials as one PDF file:

  1. Cover page listing:
    1. Researcher(s) name
    2. Project title
    3. Plain-language abstract (200 words or less)
    4. Budget period and justification. List all resources requested, including any Research Assistant or Project Assistant support if requested
    5. Results of previous IRP or CFS funding (if applicable)
  2. Description of proposed work or ongoing project (3 pages maximum)
    1. Research questions and significance
    2. Methodology and approach to be used
    3. Data sources
    4. Project timeline
  3. Plan for future work (1 page maximum)
    1. How this project will support the investigator to expand into retirement and disability research
    2. Plans for future funding
  4. Current curriculum vitae

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by a subcommittee appointed by IRP and CFS. Funding decisions will be based first, and most importantly, on the scientific merit or potential of the proposed research. Second, we will seek to support proposals that engage poverty researchers to expand their research into retirement and disability programs and policies. Third, priority will be given to junior faculty whose proposals meet the first two criteria. The SSA will provide final approval of any project before an award can be made.


Questions should be directed to:
Hallie Lienhardt |

Process-related questions should be directed to:
IRP Apply |


Deadline for proposal receipt January 26, 2020
Notification of award On or around April 1, 2020
Contract begins Around Summer 2020
Quarterly progress reports due July 15, 2020; October 15, 2020; January 15, 2021; April 15, 2021
Draft paper due at the end of the month 9 months from project start date*
Final paper due at the end of the month of the last quarter of the contract period*

*Note: Contract dates and reporting requirement deadlines will be specified in the award letter.