Social Security resumes mailing benefit statements

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 11:31 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Social Security Administration has resumed mailing statements to workers letting them know the estimated benefits they will get when they retire, the agency announced Tuesday.

Social Security began phasing out mailed statements to most workers in 2011 to save an estimated $70 million a year. Instead, the agency directed workers to track their future benefits online using a secure website.

Congress, however, passed a bill last year requiring Social Security to resume mailing the statements.

The agency said Tuesday that many workers will now start receiving paper statements in the mail every five years, starting a few months before their 25th birthday. Once workers reach 60 they will get them every year.

The first statements were mailed out Monday.

"We have listened to our customers, advocates and Congress," acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said in a statement. "Renewing the mailing of the statement reinforces our commitment to provide the public with an easy, efficient way to obtain an estimate of their future Social Security benefits."

Social Security retirement benefits are based on the wages workers earn throughout their lives. The statements include a history of taxable earnings and payroll taxes for each year so people can check for mistakes. They also provide estimates of monthly benefits, based on current earnings and when a worker plans to retire.

Workers can claim reduced retirement benefits starting at age 62. Full benefits are available at age 66, a threshold that is gradually increasing to 67 for people born in 1960 or later.

Workers can get higher benefits if they wait until they turn 70 to start receiving them.

The agency expects to mail out nearly 48 million statements a year. For this year, Social Security estimates it will spend about $23 million mailing the statements.

Colvin urged workers to sign up for online accounts so they can review their future benefits at any time. People who sign up for the "My Social Security" online service will not receive statements in the mail.

The agency said about 14 million people have established online accounts at www.socialsecurity.gov .

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Online:

My Social Security account sign up: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount

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