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Social Security News

Social Security Advised to Return to Mailing Paper Statement by Advisory Board

MySSA online is commendable but advisory board still has three big concerns

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Social Security Advisory Board says MYSSA is fine but should not replace the paper statement.

Jan. 23, 2014 – There are probably millions of senior citizens cheering the Social Security Advisory Board today after it released a statement yesterday recommending the Social Security Administration return to the practice of mailing an annual Social Security Statement to beneficiaries. That paper statement was discontinued in 2011 and the MySSA online portal was introduced as the way to get information.

“Since its inception more than 25 years ago, the Social Security Statement has been a direct means of communicating with taxpayers and beneficiaries,” the board stated in a public statement.

 “The document was intended to serve three important purposes:

1) improve public understanding of Social Security;
2) assist in planning for retirement security; and
3) provide workers an opportunity to correct any errors in their earnings record.”

The board applauded SSA’s decision to provide the Statement in an online format, but said, “Serious concerns remain.”

Its first concern, about the decision to suspend paper mailings, is that it violates the law requiring SSA to provide statements annually to eligible individuals.

The board’s statement added as the second concern that “Social Security participants may be unaware that SSA suspended mailing the Statement.”

 

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Their third concern is that "the public was not informed that MySSA exists, and there is no provision to assist individuals who do not have electronic access."

The Social Security Administration (SSA) cited severe budget constraints when it suspended mailing the Statements in May 2011, according to the advisory board statement. SSA's creation of the MySSA online portal was commended then by the advisory board.

MySSA can be used to access the member’s Social Security Statement, which includes important information such as earnings record, estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes paid, and estimates of retirement, disability, and survivor’s benefits. If receiving benefits or Medicare, a my Social Security account aides in providing a benefit verification letter, earnings record, benefit and payment information, and the ability to change account phone number, address, and manage direct deposit information.

The Social Security Advisory Board is an entity established by statute to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters relating to the Nation's retirement and disability systems.  Its mandates also include increasing public understanding of the Social Security system. Members of the Board are appointed on a bi-partisan basis by the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

“Retirement security has changed in the last several decades and these changes have made individual retirement planning critical.  With the Statement, SSA has the opportunity to provide a valuable public service by targeting the needs of individuals in different age groups and educating them on the importance of planning,” the board said.

The complete report, titled The Online Statement and MySSA Portal, can be found at www.ssa.gov. Join or learn more about MySSA.

Following are the current members of the Social Security Advisory Board:

Barbara B. Kennelly is President of Barbara Kennelly Associates and is also a distinguished professor at Trinity Washington University. She served as President of the National Committee to preserve Social Security and Medicare from 2002-2011.  Mrs. Kennelly served 17 years in the United States House of Representatives representing the First District of Connecticut. During her Congressional career, 

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy is the Executive Director for Disability Rights Montana (DRM), an organization that protects and advocates for the human, legal, and civil rights of Montanans with disabilities. She manages and oversees the day-to-day activities of DRM and sets the tone to ensure that the organization’s mission to advance dignity, equality, and self-determination is being accomplished.

Jagadeesh Gokhale is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He earlier worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a visiting scholar (2003), the U.S. Treasury Department as a consultant (2002), and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland as a senior economic advisor (1990-2003). An economist by training, his main research fields are macro and public economics with a special focus on the effects of fiscal policy on future generations. 

Dorcas R. Hardy is President of DRHardy & Associates, a government relations and public policy firm serving a diverse portfolio of clients. After her appointment by President Ronald Reagan as Assistant Secretary of Human Development Services, Ms. Hardy was appointed Commissioner of Social Security (1986 to 1989) and was appointed by President George W. Bush to chair the Policy Committee for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.

 

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