Monday, January 27, 2014

New publication: “The Online Statement and MySSA Portal”

The Social Security Advisory Board Announces a New Position Paper

The Social Security Advisory Board is pleased to announce its most recent Position Paper entitled:  The Online Statement and MySSA Portal: SSA Should Take Additional Steps to More Effectively Communicate with the Public.

For more than 25 years the Social Security Statement has been an important tool in improving public understanding of social security programs, assisting people in planning for their retirement, and providing workers an opportunity to correct errors in their earnings record.  However, citing budget constraints, in May 2011 SSA suspended mailing the Statement.  It later developed the MySSA online portal, which provides individuals electronic access to their Statement and includes some valuable retirement planning tools.  In encouraging use of the online portal, SSA has noted that establishing a MySSA account protects against someone else fraudulently opening an account in your name.
While the Board applauds SSA’s move to an electronic platform, the following concerns remain:

  • SSA has a legal obligation to send Statements to eligible individuals.  Providing an online version does not fulfill this obligation, especially for individuals who do not have electronic access or who prefer paper.
  • SSA has not adequately publicized that it has suspended mailing the Statement.  It needs to send notification and explain the availability, tools and protections in establishing a MySSA account.
  • While encouraging individuals to open a MySSA account may offer some protection from theft of personal information, SSA should continue developing additional protections.
  • SSA needs to better communicate how the Statement can be a valuable tool for retirement planning, and it needs to rewrite confusing sections pursuant to the provisions in the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-274).

The Board’s full Position Paper can be found here

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