Expertise: Social Security, federal budget, public finance


Alan Cohen is a senior fellow at American Progress, working primarily on Social Security issues. Cohen was recently confirmed by the Senate to be a member of the Social Security Advisory Board.

Cohen served as the chief counselor for Social Security and the senior budget adviser for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance from 2001 to 2012. He served as senior adviser for budget and economics to the secretary of the treasury from 1993 to 2001. He received the Treasury Medal in January of 2001. For six months in 1999 and 2000, he was detailed from the U.S. Treasury Department to the Domestic Policy Office in the Office of the Vice President to serve as the budget advisor. He served as the budget economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance from 1992 to 1993.

From 1983 to 1992, Cohen was first a senior economist and then the assistant staff director for budget priorities for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. During this period, he worked extensively on the Social Security program. Cohen worked as a policy analyst and economist at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1979 to 1983. During this time, he helped start the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

Cohen received a B.A. in physics from Grinnell College in 1972, a master’s of public policy from the University of Michigan in 1975, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1979. Cohen is the co-author—with Kevin Hollenbeck—of “Energy Assistance Schemes: Review, Evaluation, and Recommendations” in High Energy Costs: Assessing the Burden, published by Resources for the Future in 1982.