As of 2011, your annual Social Security statements are no longer being mailed to your home. Did you get that memo? I didn’t and neither did you since the Social Security Administration didn’t send one. What they have done instead was introduce online access to your statements beginning the week of May 29, a move that could save the government more than $70 million each year. According to a Reuters article, more than 130,000 individuals have signed up as of May 10.
You can access your Social Security Statement Online at any time of the day, seven days a week. For those of us living in the digital age, this is an easy and convenient way of seeing what you are entitled to when you retire or if you become disabled. But, while it may be convenient for those of us who live online, it may not be convenient for a large segment of the American population.
According to Reuters, “One in five adults don’t use the Internet. Seniors, non-native English speakers, low-income and less-educated households are least likely to have access. [Pew Internet & American Life Project] also reports that 62 percent of households had access to broadband last year, with minority groups, rural areas and low-income households least likely to have high-speed service.” How comfortable are your grandparents with accessing their information over the internet?
If someone does not access their statements, is it a big loss? Studies say yes. According to a survey conducted by the Social Security Advisory Board there is a “clear link between receipt of the statement and understanding of Social Security benefits”. The study found that more than 50% of individuals who read their Social Security Statements increased their savings rate and 25% contacted a financial adviser. Those statements triggered many individuals into taking their impending retirements seriously.
I absolutely understand the need for the Social Security Administration to save money, and $70 million in annual savings is nothing to sneeze at a time when belt tightening is needed. I do, however, believe that better notification should have been made to all individuals. Perhaps one final mailing of the statement with a letter attached stating that it would be the final mailed statement, and directing the recipients to the new site.
Did you know that you would no longer receive statements? Will you sign up on the new Social Security site?