After massively scaling back on paper Social Security statements this past decade, the Social Security Administration awaits a vote in Congress to find out if they’ll be ramping them back up.
The 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.
Beginning in 2010, the SSA began cutting back on paper statements to save on shipping and postage costs.
Individuals were encouraged to register for a free online account at My Social Security. The account would provide access to all the relevant information concerning benefits, eligibility, and account balances.
According to a 2018 report by the Office of the Inspector General, in fiscal year 2010 the SSA spent $65 million to print and mail about 155 million statements. That compares to 2018, when the SSA spent roughly $7.6 million to print and mail about 14.6 million statements.
In 2017 and 2018, the agency only sent paper statements to individuals 60 and up who had not registered for an online account.
The BETTER Act bill would reinstate the mailing of paper statements to all individuals age 25 and up who are not yet receiving Social Security benefits.
Proponents of the bill argue that too few people use the online portal to view their accounts: The OIG report found that only 43% of registered users accessed their online statements in 2018.
Knowing and understanding your Social Security benefits is crucial, say advocates for the BETTER Act, and a necessary measure to avoid misunderstandings and correct misinformation before it’s too late.
The bill received bipartisan support in the House Ways and Means Committee, and the next step will be for the full House of Representatives to consider it.