A recent MSN Money article reported that Social Security statements are due to make a comeback. It notes, “Have you missed the paper Social Security benefits statements you used to receive annually in the mail? You’ll be happy to know that the Social Security Administration plans to resume mailing the benefits statements in September.” However, I tend to wonder if the way in which they are bringing back this once helpful tool is indeed worthwhile.
While I was a fan of such statements in the past, I’m not sure that bringing them back in their current form will make them as helpful as they once were.
A statement every five years?
MSN Money notes that “Reuters said the paper statements will be mailed to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 and older. If you’ve signed up to view your benefits statements online, you will not get the mailed statement.”
I tend to wonder whether getting a Social Security statement every five years will be all that helpful. I mean, sure, I guess it’s better than nothing, but would a person only check a retirement plan like a 401(k), IRA or 403(b) every five years?
While we can’t make adjustments to the ways in which our contributions to Social Security are put to work, only seeing what our money is doing and what our potential benefits are every five years could lead to other issues.
What if there’s an issue?
One of the major issues I foresee with only getting a benefit statement every five years is identity theft. For example, it’s great if you get a Social Security statement at age 25, but what if the following year, someone gets a hold of your Social Security number and begins filing under or drawing benefits under that number? Does that mean that it will be four years when the next statement is issued before you catch it? By that time, it could have gone from being a big issue to a huge one and involve even more time, energy and money to sort out the whole mess.
Signing up online
Of course, I guess signing up online to see your Social Security information at ssa.gov is an option. However, that means that we must give more of our pertinent personal information to the government, putting it into an internet world that seems increasingly prone to hacks and security breaches. Plus, it only adds to the amount of user names and passwords that we have to remember, change, and retain.
And I’ll bet that the amount of money the government has spent setting up and maintaining this new online system probably ended up outweighing what they saved on not mailing paper statements in the first place, but I can’t support my theory.
Either way, I just wish they’d bring back the annual statements and be done with it. But that’s just me.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.