Social Security Statements May Be Coming Back to Mailboxes

Jul 12, 2019 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Since 2012, the Social Security Administration has scaled back the mailing of paper statements after it established a website, My Social Security, that offered access to that information online. The agency was able to save on the costs of mailing paper records—in 2018, the total cost was $7.6 million, compared to $24 million in 2016. During those years, the cost per statement was 52 cents. But a new bill, called the Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019, or BETTER Act, includes a provision that would reinstate mailed Social Security statements.

Advocacy groups including Consumer Action and the Coalition for Paper Options have voiced their support for this change, which they argue would improve access to Social Security statements, arguing that many people are not accessing their online statements. A report from the Social Security Office of the Inspector General released in February found that 43% of registered users accessed their online statements in 2018, down from 48% in 2017 and 53% in 2016.

“This is one of the single most important financial planning tools that we’ll ever see,” said Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for Consumer Action.

“We are in no way opposed to online delivery for those people that prefer that and are capable of accessing it,” said John Runyan, executive director of the Coalition for Paper Options. “But individuals should have paper access until they decide they want online access, not the other way around. If you don’t take steps [to get online access], you’re in the dark,” Runyan said. “That’s inappropriate.”

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