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“Know Your Social Security” Proposal Would Bring Back Annual Statements

Know Your Social Security Proposal to bring back paper statements

Do you know the amount of your anticipated monthly Social Security benefits when you reach retirement age? You should. That’s why a new Social Security proposal aims to make it easier to understand your benefits and how to plan for retirement.

The Know Your Social Security Act has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. It would bring back mailed paper statements to working adults age 25 and older. Mailings of the annual statements were curtailed after 2010, leaving many working Americans in the dark about how much financial assistance they will have in retirement.

The bill has bipartisan support from federal legislators including Reps. John Larson, D-Conn., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., as well as Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bill Cassidy, R-La. Many consumer advocacy organizations also support the new Social Security proposal.

“AARP believes strongly that all Americans, unless they choose otherwise, should have access to their Social Security statements via mail,” said Bill Sweeney, senior vice president for government affairs at AARP, in a letter to the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security. “This bipartisan bill would once again place vital paper Social Security statements in the hands of millions of Americans to help them more effectively plan for retirement, identify fraud, correct earnings records and better understand their stake in Social Security.”

Digital-Only Access Leaves Many Americans Out

Nearly 180 million American workers pay into the Social Security system each year. But a vast majority of them do not have an updated accounting of what they’ve contributed or what Social Security income they can anticipate for retirement and other vital details.

In 2020, the Social Security Administration mailed statements to only about 19 million individuals, leaving the rest to access the information online, if they even knew how.

Asking millions of workers to rely on the internet for this vital information discounts how many do not have access to reliable service or prefer not to risk fraud or identity theft by leaving an online trail of personal information.

According to a 2021 study by BroadbandNow, some 42 million Americans do not have broadband internet access.

In the same survey, 64 percent of consumers said they are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged.

More than half (52 percent) of the youngest adults (18- to 24-year-olds) expressed similar concerns.

Social Security Proposal Answers Preference for Paper Records

There’s no question Social Security information is important. The Social Security Administration estimates that of the more than 46 million Americans receiving Social Security retirement benefits, 21 percent of married couples and 45 percent of single people rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

Fifty-seven percent of retirees rely on Social Security as their major source of income, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

Most consumers prefer to have this and other important financial information on paper, which is why this new Social Security proposal is important.

In the 2021 survey commissioned by Two Sides North America, 64 percent of consumers say they regularly print out copies of such documents. And 53 percent find paper bills and statements better than electronic bills and statements for recordkeeping.

Paper continues to play a role in financial and estate planning, and it’s a more sustainable choice than many people realize.

Learn more about how you can choose delivery options from Keep Me Posted, which advocates for consumer awareness and delivery options.

If you want to receive an annual Social Security statement by mail, contact your elected representatives and let them know of your support of the new Social Security proposal. If you are not certain who represents you, find your U.S. House representative here and your U.S. senators’ contact information here.