Do you prefer old-fashioned paper statements to online statements? Many people prefer the convenience of online access, but some still prefer paper statements due to poor access to computers, security concerns, or perhaps even fear of websites. Unfortunately, with respect to Social Security statements, these people may be forced to adjust to online access.
Social Security statements are going to be mailed to fewer individuals in 2017, thanks to a reduced administrative budget. Citing the continuing budget resolution that extends into 2017, the Social Security Administration (SSA) says that a narrow group of people will continue to receive paper statements: only those who are aged 60 and above, who are not receiving benefits, and who do not have a my Social Security account. Through this policy, the SSA estimates savings of $11.3 million for the upcoming fiscal year.
It’s possible that the SSA will reverse course. A previous effort in 2011 to eliminate paper statements was altered in 2014. The 2014 reversal limited paper statements to workers who weren't receiving benefits and who hadn't signed up for my Social Security online. Paper statements were to be mailed when workers turned 25, every five years thereafter until age 60, and annually after that. The recent action will eliminate paper statements for those below age 60.
Why should you be concerned? Your Social Security statement contains useful information regarding your retirement benefits, such as your status, your estimated benefits at retirement age, and the wage history used to calculate your future benefits. The statement also contains personalized messages based on your age. A sample statement for younger workers is included on the SSA website here.
It's important to check your statement for any errors that can affect your future benefits and eligibility. If you want to avoid visits or calls to the Social Security office to check on your account status, you need access to a my Social Security account. Instructions to create an account are available through the SSA, but it's a relatively simple process.
You only need three things to create your my Social Security account: a valid e-mail address, a valid Social Security number, and a mailing address within the U.S.
Start by accessing the SSA website and select the "Create an Account" button. You will be asked to provide personal information to verify your identity before proceeding. Once your identity is verified, you will be asked to provide a username and password to log into your account. Be sure to choose a non-obvious strong password, and try not to use a password that you have used for any other sites.
You will also need access to a computer, which can be a burden for some Americans who depend on access to public computers. Be sure to create and access your account only through secure connections, as thieves can do great damage with access to your Social Security number and the personal information necessary to create your account.
Once you have created an account, you can sign on at any time on the SSA website to check your benefits. It's not a particularly exciting task to check your Social Security account information, but it's an important one. It's better to find out now than at retirement age that you need to correct an error in your SSA account information, or that based on the SSA estimates that you are going to have to increase your own savings to meet your retirement goals.
Let the free MoneyTips Retirement Planner help you calculate when you can retire without jeopardizing your lifestyle.