The Social Security Administration (SSA) is going back to the mail, bucking the digital trend it embraced just 3 years ago. This month, SSA will again start mailing paper benefit statements to people at 5-year intervals.
In 2011, under budget pressure, SSA stopped mailing paper statements that provide an estimate of future Social Security earnings. The effort certainly saved money, about $70 million a year. But only about 11 million people – or just 6 percent of all workers – registered online to view their statements. This low participation heightened criticism that people weren’t getting valuable reminders of what they can expect to get back in the future from payroll taxes.
Advocacy groups for older Americans and the paper industry pressured the agency to resume mailing paper statements. They noted that millions of Americans don’t have Internet access and thus have no way to verify the accuracy of their Social Security benefits or to plan for retirement.
If you are one of the 11 million who registered to view your statement online, you won’t get a paper statement mailed to you. But everyone else will get a mailed statement when they are ages 25, 30, 35, 40 and so on.
SSA’s return to hard-copy statements suggests that some types of communication still need to be mailed. Do you agree? Or, as broadband expands, can most communications eventually move online for convenience and cost savings? What types of statements do you prefer to receive by mail? Are there statements you prefer to get online?