Each year, 150 Million Americans receive a statement in the mail from Social Security, which projects future benefits, and aids retirement planning for those who may become eligible. Some Americans have already received their statement in the mail this year, and some haven't.
Soon, however, Social Security plans to stop delivering that information to you. Instead, you'll have to visit their website, log in, and look it up for yourself.
According to Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue, these mailed statements cost Social Security $70 million per year, which prompted his office to seek a more cost-effective means of providing the information.
Paperless statements could cause some negative consequences. The most obvious problem is that some of the 150 Million Americans won't ever log on to check their statement, either because they aren't aware of the change, or don't have internet access or capability. As put by Astrue himself, there are also concerns about "security issues," and privacy. Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare worries that when Americans stop receiving this "concrete piece of paper," they may suffer a loss of "confidence in the program." Mary Johnson of the Senior Citizen's league believes that the paper statements allow workers the opportunity to check the accuracy of their records, and reminds them that their benefits will be modest, thereby cautioning Americans not to view Social Security as a comprehensive retirement plan.
For those of us who are aware that the mailings are coming to an end, and who know our way around a computer, there should not be a problem. In fact, the Social Security website already offers "Benefits Calculators," including a "Retirement Estimator," which allows users to log in using their Social Security Number, and provides specific benefits projections.
The Retirement Estimator is located here: http://www.ssa.gov/estimator/
Spread the word that the mailings are coming to an end. And, if you know someone with limited or no internet access, or who is simply not adept at using the internet, consider offering to help them find this information online.
Ohlemacher, Stephen. "Social Security stopping mailed earning statements." Associated Press, 7 April 2011.