Workers Could Soon Find Social Security Statements in Mailboxes Again
July 26th, 2019 by Attorney John Colvin
A bill currently under consideration by Congress would require the Social Security Administration to send annual statements via regular mail even though the information is currently available online. Studies have found that not enough people are accessing their online statements, which leaves many workers uninformed about their retirement and disability benefits. Several years ago, the Social Security Administration scaled back the number of individuals to whom it sends statements out.
Currently, only notices are sent out to those age 60 and older. Even though individuals have access to their personal records online, studies have found that not enough people are accessing the information, and that mailed statements need to be reinstituted by the Administration in order for people to remain informed and educated about their Social Security benefits.
The bill currently under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives is called the Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019 or the “BETTER Act” which contains a provision that the Administration will reinstate mailed Social Security statements to all workers. Since 2012, the Social Security Administration began a massive scale-back of their mailed statements to workers. As recently as 2010, 160 million statements were mailed out to workers.
However, in 2011 that number dropped to less than 80 million, and in 2012 the number was around 20 million. The bill currently under consideration by the House of Representatives would prompt the Social Security Administration to reinstate mailed social security statements to individuals age 25 and up who are not receiving social security benefits. Under existing law, the Social Security Administration is required to provide those statements annually to workers.
However, Social Security maintains that their current online system and portal complies with existing law. The report from the Inspector General’s Office earlier this year found that 43% of registered users accessed their online statements in 2018, down from 48% in 2017 and 53% in 2016. Many argue that the Social Security statements are the single most important financial planning tool that a worker will ever see and is of high priority and should not require the worker to navigate through an online Social Security account.