Every year, Social Security snail-mails 150 million workers a statement estimating what their payments would be if they retired at age 62, 66 or 70. In our household, we call it the annual fantasy letter, trying to imagine that Social Security won't go bust before we reach those ages.
Now Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue has announced that in an effort to save money -- $70 million a year -- the agency is going to provide these statements online by the end of the year.Given the recent online security issues -- just yesterday I got an email from Chase noting that my email confidentiality had been breached -- not to mention that not everyone has a computer or the skills or transportation to use the one at the library -- this has raised some protest.
The idea of distributing the information online exclusively didn't sit well with some who advocate for older Americans.
Yahoo quoted Max Richtman, executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare saying, "As far as the information being available online, that's not going to help a lot of people we work with."
The Social Security statements are mailed to workers 25 and older. The statements include a history of taxable earnings for each year, so people can check for errors and have them corrected.
Astrue said the agency's website has a benefits estimator which accomplishes the same thing as the mailings. Uh, not quite.
You can go online and get an estimate of your likely retirement benefits, but the website doesn't give you the detailed earnings and payroll tax history to check for errors. And besides, isn't Rule No. 1 for online security to never give anyone your Social Security number?
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