Paper Social Security benefits statements, which used to be mailed out every year and then fell victim to budget cuts, are going to make a partial comeback.
Starting this September, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume mailings at five-year intervals to workers who have not signed up to view their statements online, an agency spokesman told Reuters. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60, he said, adding the agency would continue to promote use of the online statements.
The SSA stopped mailing most paper statements in 2011 in response to budget pressures, and saved the SSA $70 million annually – about 50 cents per mailed statement. But the decision has been a sore point ever since with some critics, who argue the statement provides a valuable annual reminder to workers of what they can expect to get back from payroll taxes.
So far, only 10 million American wage earners – just 6 percent of all workers – have signed up at the site. Critics note that many of the workers who will be most reliant on Social Security in retirement are least likely to have Internet access, including low-income and non-English speaking minorities.
The partial restoration of mailed statements was made possible by an improved budget outlook. The SSA’s fiscal 2014 budget was boosted to $11.7 billion, and President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget request is $12 billion.