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,
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
“The document was intended to serve three
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
The board applauded SSA’s decision to provide the
Statement in an online format, but said, “Serious concerns
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.”
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 MySSAonline 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.
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,
is the Executive Director for Disability Rights Montana (DRM), an
organization that protects and advocates for thehuman,
legal, and civil rights of Montanans with disabilities. Shemanages
and oversees the day-to-day activities of DRM and sets the tone to
ensure that the organization’s mission toadvance
dignity, equality, and self-determinationis
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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