Supporting Materials for Late-in-Life Decisions

Background and Purpose

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program (the Program), launched in October 2018, encompasses several important research goals. A key goal is to bring a holistic focus to the large and growing body of research related to aging and retirement that the SOA has traditionally conducted. The Program also seeks to initiate new research that furthers knowledge in a variety of aging and retirement topic areas. Consistent with the Program’s interest in aging issues, the focus of this Request for Proposal is the production of a guide that describes and evaluates considerations for late-in-life decisions. This topic has been chosen because of its practical importance as medical advances and other factors continue to increase life expectancy. Furthermore, difficult decisions made later in life can impact the lives of individuals and their families and caregivers substantially. This is particularly important because there may be fewer opportunities to recover from any poor decisions that are made.

The SOA expects that the results of this research will expand the boundaries of the actuarial profession and serve consumers through the expertise of actuaries on the risks associated with these issues. Besides consumers, other Program stakeholders expected to benefit from this effort include retirement professionals, regulators and other parties who promote retirement security and healthy aging.

The Research Objective section below discusses pertinent issues that should be covered in the guide.

Relationship to Prior SOA Research

The SOA currently offers three sets of consumer information to support retirement decisions: a series of twelve Decision Briefs targeted to individuals nearing retirement or already retired; an additional set of Retirement Literacy guides designed to help individuals at different points in time; and a series of Infographics addressing longevity issues. The materials may be found at:

In addition, the SOA has an ongoing series of consumer research projects that are intended to help improve retirement outcomes, exploring the issues retirees encounter at different stages of life including:

  • A series of nine biennial surveys: The Society of Actuaries Risks and Process of Retirement Surveys;
  • Focus Groups and Interview Studies with people who are within ten years of retirement, people who are retired for 15 years or more, and individuals age 85 and over.

These materials may be found at:

The cognitive decline report entitled “A Conversation on Dementia and Cognitive Decline” is based on a discussion among retirement professionals and is a mixture of expert opinion and anecdotal information. /research-reports/2018/cognitive-conversation/

In addition to the Society of Actuaries research, outside sources may be used for background and supporting documentation.

This project is intended to supplement the existing consumer information published by the SOA. The research with late-in-life retirees made it clear that some of the challenges they face are not addressed in either the existing SOA decision briefs or in the SOA Retirement Literacy Series. Furthermore, some of the issues are also not generally addressed in most retirement planning work. This request for proposal is looking for additional consumer-focused information that will address specific late-in-life issues.

There are several options for the resulting report(s) for this project:

  • The deliverable could be an additional (or several additional) SOA Decision Briefs and be part of that series.
  • The deliverable could be generally similar to the SOA Retirement Literacy Guides.
  • The deliverable could use a separate format but it should be generally compatible with the SOA’s other consumer-focused work.

Regardless of which option is chosen, the resulting report(s) should be easily readable by consumers and not assume specialized knowledge. The maximum length of any single report should be 20 pages, but it is preferable to have shorter documents to better encourage audiences to read the entire report.

Challenges to be Addressed

Based on the research completed by the SOA, some of the topics which can be addressed include:

  • Dealing with physical and cognitive decline
  • Helping with daily money management when needed
  • Planning cooperatively with family, including where or when family is expected to provide support
  • Recognizing when help is needed
  • Preventing fraud
  • Building a support network and finding support services
  • Moving when an existing living situation is not working or is likely to not work
  • Choosing supportive communities and housing
  • Using technology to support and enhance decision-making and/or quality of life
  • Engaging medical or social services professionals
  • Preparing a late-in-life decision strategy (check list of important decisions addressing retiree’s wishes and who can assist with decisions)

As with the other SOA Decision Briefs and Retirement Literacy Guides, we would expect this information to describe the issues, identify options and provide potential resources to help people make decisions. We would generally not expect a submission or report to promote a specific option where there are multiple options, but we might promote the importance of taking action among the options to address a specific issue. For example, in thinking about fraud, it is extremely important to pay attention to security of computerized data. We also do not want to promote any commercial options for the purposes of these materials.

We recognize that there are many possible decisions and the proposer will need to select areas of high priority to start. To keep the work manageable, the proposer may start with a proposal for a first phase, with suggestions for additional work after the first phase is completed.

Legal and Health Issues

Note with regard to legal issues: Individuals at high ages need to designate powers of attorney and put in place wills and often trusts. Instructions to the powers of attorney and these other legal documents involve many legal issues and are subject to state law. We would expect the consumer guides to reference the need for legal documents and possibly what issues might be encountered, such as risks in appointing legal guardianship, and the need for legal help. However, in-depth discussion of legal issues is beyond the scope of the project and the documents should include disclaimers to that effect.

Note with regard to health and medical issues: Individuals at high ages may have a variety of medical conditions and health challenges. Decision-making about specific treatments or therapies are often defined in medical directives and is beyond the scope of this project, but the idea that people may need to deal with health care decisions and be prepared for them would be an acceptable issue to discuss. Options for finding care is also an acceptable issue to incorporate.

Research Objective

The objective of this research is to broaden public knowledge in aging and retirement issues based on actuarial expertise in this domain. The SOA Aging and Retirement Strategic Research Program is seeking proposals to create consumer materials on specific decisions that are encountered late in life and that are not covered by existing Society of Actuaries decision support materials. The final deliverable is expected to be one or more documents that are understandable to consumers while serving as a useful resource to consumers, family members of consumers, financial advisors, the press, and employee benefit plan sponsors. The materials should include a discussion of options and the considerations related to them. The documents should also support actuaries who are serving as employee benefit consultants or working on products and services to support retirement planning.

Proposals should include an overarching focus on the core principles of SOA research including objectivity, quality, relevance and quantification. Recognizing high net-worth individuals have more options, there is particular interest in supporting and promoting retirement security among middle and lower-income individuals.

The deliverable should be written material in a “guide to consumers” format. Additionally, optional materials that can be used for consumer and stakeholder education (such as spreadsheets, pivot tables, infographics, and models) that would enhance understanding of the material are also encouraged. Any single document for consumers should not exceed 20 pages.

Successful researchers may be asked to present results and provide PowerPoint presentations that SOA members can use and share with others. Given the desire to advance knowledge on current subjects and provide timely results, preference will be given to proposals that can be completed for publication and for use in continuing education in 6 - 12 months. For projects that might address multiple issues in phases, the first phase must be completed in this timeframe.

The SOA encourages partnerships between academia and industry, where the resulting work can be of mutual interest and enhance the breadth of the research work. Partnerships with associations or organizations that have access to individual consumers, or employees who are consumers are also encouraged.


Proposals must pertain to one or more of the topics listed above. To facilitate the evaluation of proposals, the following information should be submitted:

  1. Resumes of the researcher(s), including any graduate student(s) expected to participate, indicating how their background, education and experience bear on their qualifications to undertake the research. If more than one researcher is involved, a single individual should be designated as the lead researcher and primary contact. The person submitting the proposal must be authorized to speak on behalf of all the researchers as well as for the firm or institution on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  2. An outline of the approach to be used (e.g. literature search, model, etc.), emphasizing issues that require special consideration. Details should be given regarding the techniques to be used, collateral material to be consulted, and possible limitations of the analysis.
  3. A description of the expected deliverables and any supporting data, tools or other resources.
  4. Cost estimates for the research, including computer time, salaries, report preparation, material costs, etc. Such estimates can be in the form of hourly rates, but in such cases, time estimates should also be included. Any guarantees as to total cost should be given and will be considered in the evaluation of the proposal. While cost will be a factor in the evaluation of the proposal, it will not necessarily be the decisive factor.
    Note: Up to $25,000 has been budgeted for this project (or the first phase of the project if the proposal is submitted as a multi-phase effort). If the project is proposed as a multi-phase effort, the proposal should clearly state what the deliverables will be for the first phase (up to $25,000) and what the deliverables will be for subsequent phases. The SOA can provide design and production services, if proposers are unable to do so. In addition, there is no guarantee that subsequent phases will be funded and thus, the initial phase should be complete as far as providing publishable material.
  5. A schedule for completion of the research, identifying key dates or time frames for research completion and report submissions.  The AITPSC is interested in completing this project in a timely manner.  Suggestions in the proposal for ensuring timely delivery, such as fee adjustments, are encouraged.
  6. Other related factors that give evidence of a proposer's capabilities to perform in a superior fashion should be detailed.

Selection Process

The Program Steering Committee (PSC) will oversee the selection. The PSC will review each proposal and is responsible for recommending proposals to be funded. Input from other knowledgeable individuals also may be sought, but the PSC will make all final decisions, subject to SOA leadership approval. SOA will provide staff actuarial support to develop and publish the final material. The PSC will recruit a Project Oversight Group (POG) to oversee the project.


Any questions regarding this RFP should be directed to Steven Siegel, SOA Research Actuary (phone: 847-706-3578; email:   

Submission Of Proposal

Final proposals for the project should be sent via e-mail to Barb Scott at

Proposals must be received no later than March 30, 2019. It is anticipated that proposers will be informed of the status of their proposal within 45 days of submission.

Note: Proposals will be considered confidential, and in order to preserve the research intentions of the proposer will not be shared beyond SOA review teams.


The selection of a proposal is conditioned upon and not considered final until a Letter of Agreement is executed by both the Society of Actuaries and the researcher.

The SOA and AITPSC reserve the right to not award a contract for this research. Reasons for not awarding a contract could include, but are not limited to, a lack of acceptable proposals or a finding that insufficient funds are available. The SOA and AITPSC also reserve the right to redirect the project as is deemed advisable.

The SOA and AITPSC plan to hold the copyright to the research and to publish the results with appropriate credit given to the researcher(s).

The SOA and AITPSC may choose to seek public exposure or media attention for the research.  By submitting a proposal, you agree to cooperate with the SOA and AITPSC in publicizing or promoting the research and responding to media requests.

The SOA and AITPSC may also choose to market and promote the research to members, candidates and other interested parties.  You agree to perform promotional communication requested by the SOA and AITPSC, which may include, but is not limited to, leading a webcast on the research, presenting the research at an SOA meeting, and/or writing an article on the research for an SOA newsletter.