SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Kevin Benedict, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Michael Bushong, Eric Brown

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Social Security Advisory Board Recommends SSA Take Additional Steps to Improve Communication with the Public

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Since its inception more than 25 years ago, the Social Security Statement has been a direct means of communicating with taxpayers and beneficiaries.  The document was intended to serve three important purposes: 1) improve public understanding of Social Security; 2) assist in planning for retirement security; and 3) provide workers an opportunity to correct any errors in their earnings record. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) cited severe budget constraints when it suspended mailing the Statements in May 2011. SSA's creation of the MySSA online portal has enabled individuals to create an account, view their Statement at any time, and utilize the retirement planning tools.  While the Board applauds SSA's decision to provide the Statement in an online format, serious concerns remain.

First, SSA's decision to suspend paper mailings of the Statement violates the law (42 USC 1320 b-13) requiring SSA to provide statements annually to eligible individuals.  Second, Social Security participants may be unaware that SSA suspended mailing the Statement.  Third, the public was not informed that MySSA exists, and there is no provision to assist individuals who do not have electronic access.

Retirement security has changed in the last several decades and these changes have made individual retirement planning critical.  With the Statement, SSA has the opportunity to provide a valuable public service by targeting the needs of individuals in different age groups and educating them on the importance of planning. The complete report, titled The Online Statement and MySSA Portal, can be found at www.ssab.gov.

The Social Security Advisory Board is an entity established by statute to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters relating to the Nation's retirement and disability systems.  Its mandates also include increasing public understanding of the Social Security system. Members of the Board are appointed on a bi-partisan basis by the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.

SOURCE Social Security Advisory Board

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