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SSA confirms some benefit info to be sent by snail mail again

"Build it and they will come" doesn't always work. We saw that in a big way with the recent attempted launch of the Affordable Care Act website.

The Social Security Administration hasn't experienced anything like the ACA insurance sign-up snags, but it does confirm that hopes of getting people to begin accessing their estimated benefit reports electronically haven't panned out as expected. Because of that, the SSA let it be known recently that it's going to resume sending out statements by regular mail. 

The key difference in the new initiative, officials say, is that the information won't go out annually like it did in the past. Rather, statements will only be sent out every five years and  go only to people between the ages of 25 and 60 who haven't signed up for online access.  

As California readers of this blog well know, Social Security is the source of essential income for millions of Americans who are retired or who are eligible for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Notifications from the administration serve to make sure individuals can figure out how much they may be able to receive. Even then, they may find it difficult to obtain the support they're eligible for without an attorney's help.

The SSA started mailing out annual estimated statements in 1999. Many saw them as helpful for personal financial planning purposes. But the agency stopped the mailings in 2011 to save money and switched to the digital statements in 2012.

Unfortunately, since then, only 6 percent of Americans have made the jump. Urged by Congress to do more, the SSA decided to resume limited paper statement mailings as of September 2014.

Officials say the statement will include information of estimated retirement payouts at various ages of eligibility. It will also indicate what you could collect if you become disabled before you retire and how much your spouse could receive in survivor benefits.

Officials urge recipients to look over the information carefully. If mistakes are found, they're urged to contact the SSA at 800-772-1213.

Source: Investment News, "Social Security to resume mailing paper statements to some workers," Mary Beth Franklin, April 21, 2014

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