Goodbye paper statements…again. Two years after reinstating paper statements amid a firestorm of criticism for having ended them, the Social Security Administration is again pulling back on mailed statements. In a recent news article about a Social Security Adminstration blog post, the agency announced it would mail fewer statements this year to reduce costs by as much as $11.3 million. Only individuals 60 years of age and older who aren’t receiving benefits and don’t have an online account will get paper statements, which provide information on a person’s earnings, estimated benefits, and contributions. 

You may remember back in 2011 the Social Security Administration stopped mailing its annual statements to save money. In May of 2012, it launched a web-based version of the statements that allowed workers to view them if they signed up for a My Social Security account. 

Online viewing of statements grew steadily over the first full year, so that by the end of FY 2013 nearly 17 million online Social Security statements were viewed, according to an agency report. Still, Congress, advocacy groups for older Americans, and paper companies pushed the Social Security Administration to resume mailing paper statements, which it did in 2014. As one of our earlier blogs noted, the agency agreed to resume mailing statements at 5-year intervals: when people are 25, 30, 35, and so on.

With this reverse course, the agency will discontinue the 5-year interval mailings and only mail paper copies to the much smaller population stated above. Despite the expected criticism, a Social Security official said the agency has no choice – it simply does not have the budget to continue the mailings. 

What types of communications need to be mailed? Are there communications that are now exclusively mailed that you would prefer to receive electronically? Alternatively, are there electronic communications you would prefer to receive by mail? Do you think this decision signals an acceleration of electronic diversion? 

Comments (8)

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  • anon

    SSA, Thank you for the update on the new department mailing process. This appears to be a more cost effective method to save benefit funds that would otherwise be wasted through mass mailings, instead the budget will be providing direct benefits services.

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    If you want your statement to arrive, best have it sent electronically. The USPS can only be depended upon to provide unreliable service with no ownership of the quality of service.

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    William, Your comment that the "USPS can only be depended upon to provide unreliable service with no ownership of the quality of service" is made with what seems like little knowledge of the reason why service has declined. Let's start with what Congress did to the USPS in 2005 with the passing of a mandate for the USPS to "prefund" is retirement healthcare for the next 75 years and to do it in 10 years. This action required the USPS to pay $5.5 Billion per year and that has caused the agency to run in the red. Without this payment, the USPS would have had only 1 year during the recession where they would have been in the red without any changes. Then in an attempt to make ends meet, the USPS cut delivery standards and closed close to 50% mail processing plants across the country, like over 200 of them. The result is that the plants that are still processing mail are now running way over the volume that they were designed to handle and the result is mail is slower that it has ever been since the Pony Express! Can it be fixed, yes but the changes that need to take place will require Congress to listen to both USPS mgmt. and the labor unions that move the mail not the "Special Interest" groups (UPS, FedEx) who will only gain by what the USPS loses.

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    Perhaps congress should give back all the money they stole from SSA. Then maybe SSA would be able to operate as was intended.

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    I think it should be a choice made by the recipient and I personally prefer hard copy statements mailed to me on a regular basis. I would rather receive paper statements/correspondence from my bank, insurance company, IRS, SSA, auto registration and utility companies. I also prefer voting by mail. Although I find some online functions to be convenient (such as obtaining event tickets on my mobile phone, or airline e-tickets, for example), I personally prefer most of my official correspondence to be mailed to me. SSA should allow the beneficiaries to make that choice before automatically excluding most people.

    Jan 30, 2017
  • anon

    If there is any mailed letters mail out to me that is private use and would be the basis of vandalism due to unlawful knowledge of the mails arrival to my post office box then I would want a online report that it is in the post office , just the other day one of the postal employees let me know that they keep a close look at all letters including checks and government letters and packages and if my box is too full of letters.

    Jan 30, 2017
  • anon

    I should not have to pay to travel(Idonot own computer) and have visual issues inorder to get a statement It is not even safe to do at the library Plus I have to ask for help to print

    Jan 30, 2017
  • anon

    I'm retired and receive benefits. I still spend a lot of time on the computer and pay all my bills on-ine. However, I still want certain things in hard copy. In November of each year I receive a hard-copy notice from SSA as to my benefits for the coming year. I want this in paper form. Besides, believe it or not, there are a lot of people who do NOT have on-going access to a computer. I do, but now that I'm retired, I may not be in a financial position to replace my computer in the future and I'm certainly not going to be doing financial stuff on a public access one. Material containing private, personal, financial and legal data and information should still be provided in paper form. Thanks for listening.

    Jan 30, 2017

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