Ways & Means Committee Legislation Urges Reinstatement of Mailed Social Security Earnings Statements
The Coalition for Paper Options – an alliance of consumer organizations, labor unions, rural advocates, and print communications industry organizations which recognize the need to preserve access to important paper-based information and services for Americans who prefer them or depend on them – applauded the House Ways & Means Committee for advancing H.R. 3417, “Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019” – particularly Section 101 (G), which encourages the reinstatement of mailed Social Security Statements. The bill was marked up today.
Social Security Statements summarize each wage earner’s recorded earnings and project future retirement benefits. The statements have been described by many as the single most important financial planning tool most Americans will ever receive, yet the Social Security Administration quietly eliminated them in printed form for most people – without any oversight from Congress – in January 2017.
While wage earners over age 60 still receive printed Social Security Earnings statements unless they have signed up for online access, all evidence indicates that the vast majority of Americans now simply do not receive them at all – online or otherwise. A report released in February 2019 by the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General highlights a tremendous decline in overall access since the statements since the primarily online-only policy took place.
“Compared to 2010 when 155 million Social Security Statements were mailed to U.S. wage earners, the Inspector General report shows that just 31 million Americans received a statement in 2018 – either online or by mail,” wrote Coalition for Paper Options Executive Director John Runyan in a letter to the Ways & Means Committee in support of H.R. 3417. “In fact, the 14.6 million Social Security Earnings statements mailed in 2018 to workers over age 60 rivals the 16.8 million Americans of any age who are accessing their statements online. Lower income citizens and those with either little access to or interest in broadband Internet service are the citizens most likely to no longer receive the statement, but they are, of course, the populations that need it the most.”
In response, H.R. 3417 reinforces the need for the Social Security Administration to follow existing law – found in Section 1143 of the Social Security Act, which requires the Social Security Administration to provide a Social Security Statement annually, without request, to all individuals age 25 and older who are not receiving Social Security benefits.
After today’s markup, the bill now moves to the full House for consideration.
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