Senior Policy Analyst
A bipartisan bill from Reps. John Larson and Vern Buchanan and Senators Ron Wyden and Bill Cassidy would clarify that the Social Security Administration (SSA) must mail statements to almost all workers. Though the law already requires that, SSA has dramatically cut the number that it’s sent to workers amid budget cuts, arguing that they can access statements online. But most workers aren’t accessing them, the data show, meaning they’re missing out on the statements’ personalized earnings histories, benefit estimates, and information about Social Security, all of which can help them plan their financial futures.
Until about a decade ago, SSA sent statements yearly to workers 25 and older. Now, only those 60 or over who haven’t claimed benefits or created an online account get a mailed statement. Instead, SSA encourages workers to access their statements online — and, if they do, the agency automatically opts them out of ever receiving a paper statement. But online statements haven’t come close to offsetting the dramatic decline in the number mailed, as the figure below shows. More than three-quarters of workers haven’t registered for an account — and less than half of those with an online account logged in to check their statements last year.
Under the bill, SSA must resume mailing annual paper statements to every worker over age 25, with very limited exceptions. Here are five reasons why SSA should resume mailing Social Security statements to most workers: