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? 

Comments (6)

  • anon

    I still prefer my bills on a snail mail because I am not that diligent to check emails everytime.

    Sep 15, 2014
  • anon

    I like. to put in for a request. for SSA-Statement-USUSPostalServiceSSA-eletronic by email

    Sep 11, 2014
  • anon

    I prefer statements of all kinds by mail. I was the executor of a friend's estate when he died 15 years ago. I had no idea what assets were part of the estate and I bascially waited for the mail to arrive each day, finding bank statements, investment account statements and other things. If these were electronic, I could have missed them and who knows what would have happened to the asset.

    Sep 09, 2014
  • anon

    I prefer all my bills and notices to be sent by US mail!!!

    Sep 02, 2014
  • anon

    It would be useful to know what efforts the SSA made to communicate to Americans that they should access the information online. Was this lack of online participation a result of people really not wanting the information online, preferring hardcopy, or was it a case of not knowing that the online function was available and how to pursue it?

    Sep 02, 2014
  • anon

    I agree--nobody in my office even knew you had to register online. Perhaps this should have been advertised more. I totally forgot that I even used to receive these statements until I read this article!

    Sep 29, 2014

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