“Our new online Social Security Statement is simple, easy-to-use and provides people with estimates they can use to plan for their retirement,” Astrue said. “The online statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, making the statement an important financial planning tool. People should get in the habit of checking their online statement each year, around their birthday, for example.”
In addition to helping with financial planning, the online statement also provides workers a convenient way to determine whether their earnings are accurately posted to their Social Security records. This feature is important because Social Security benefits are based on average earnings over a person’s lifetime. If the earnings information is not accurate, the person may not receive all the benefits to which he or she is entitled. The online statement also provides the opportunity to save or print it for financial planning discussions with family or a financial planner.
To get a personalized online statement, people age 18 and older must be able to provide information about themselves that matches information already on file with Social Security. In addition, Social Security uses Experian, an external authentication service provider, for additional verification. People must provide their identifying information and answer security questions in order to pass this verification. Social Security will not share a person’s Social Security number with Experian, but the identity check is an important part of this new, robust verification process.
Once verified, people will create a “My Social Security” account with a unique user name and password to access to their online Statement. In addition, the portal also includes links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare.
It is important to note, however, Social Security anticipates some members of the public will not be able to be verified through this process. Some people may not correctly answer the security questions based on information on file with Experian, and others may supply identifying information that does not match their Social Security records. In instances where this occurs, people will have the option to request a paper Social Security statement be mailed to them. People who cannot verify online initially also may visit their local Social Security office and present an identity document in order to create an account and gain access to the online version of the statement.
In February 2012, Social Security resumed mailing paper statements to workers age 60 and older if they are not already receiving Social Security benefits. Later this year, the agency plans to mail paper statements to workers in the year they reach age 25.
The Social Security Board of Trustees on April 23, 2012, released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2033, three years sooner than projected last year. The DI Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2016, two years earlier than last year’s estimate. The Trustees also project that OASDI program costs will exceed non-interest income in 2012 and will remain higher throughout the remainder of the 75-year period. For the complete report go here.