Social Security Is Mailing Fewer Statements—It Matters More Than You Think

Apr 13, 2017 / by Michael Natalie, Horsesmouth Associate Editor

Workers who receive paper statements from Social Security are less likely to claim their benefits early, according to new research from Barbara Smith, a senior economist with the Social Security Administration.

Workers may claim their benefits at any age between 62 or 70. Those who claim early may receive more checks over a lifetime, but those who claim later receive a substantially higher monthly check.

Practically speaking, the higher monthly check is usually more worthwhile: You’ll receive more income later in life when other income streams start to dwindle, and should you predecease your spouse, they’ll receive your enhanced monthly check as a survivor benefit.

The Social Security Administration’s decision to curb its direct mail expenditures will save the department $11.3 million in costs, while preserving paper statements for those 60 and older who haven’t claimed yet. While this seems like a good practical step, Smith’s preliminary research implies Americans have become reliant on paper statements for making informed Social Security claiming decisions, even though they can theoretically access the same information online.


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