The statements, mailed to 150 million people each year, show a projection of your future benefits and include a history of taxable earnings for each year – so people can check for mistakes – as well as the total amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes paid over your lifetime. While certainly a useful retirement planning tool for workers, the mailed statements cost the SSA more than $70 million a year.
In a recent article from the Associated Press, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue says the website offers the same estimates, while also allowing the individual to run scenarios to test their preparation and various outcomes. Nevertheless, critics point out that it does not, as yet, offer the detailed history of taxable incomes, which means you’ll have no way of catching possible mistakes. Plus, if you’re not really computer-savvy, or don’t have access to high-speed internet, the website could be quite difficult to use.
Stopping the mailed statements is part of a trend in government to conduct more of its business electronically. The SSA already mails out few paper checks. About 88 percent of beneficiaries have their payments deposited directly into bank accounts, and approximately 41 percent of applications for retirement benefits come in online.
Visit the SSA website to find out more about what you can now do online. You may also benefit from downloading our recent article on “The 7 Biggest Concerns for Your Retirement Planning” as well as our Free Massachusetts Elder Guide to Medicare, Nursing Home & Asset Protection Planning.
For a more complete picture on planning for the future, please attend one of our free Trust, Estate & Asset Protection workshops.