FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Ways & Means Committee Legislation Urges Reinstatement of
Mailed Social Security Earnings Statements, Eliminated in 2017
H.R. 3417, which reinforces the Social Security Administration’s obligation to send Social Security Statements to eligible wage earners, reported to House floor following a clear decrease in access to the important financial planning tool
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2019) – The Coalition for Paper Options – an alliance of consumer organizations, labor unions, rural advocates, and print communications industry organizations which recognize the need to preserve access to important paper-based information and services for Americans who prefer them or depend on them – today applauded the House Ways & Means Committee for advancing H.R. 3417, “Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019” – particularly Section 101 (G), which encourages the reinstatement of mailed Social Security Statements.
Social Security Statements summarize each wage earner’s recorded earnings and project future retirement benefits. The statements have been described by many as the single most important financial planning tool most Americans will ever receive, yet the Social Security Administration quietly eliminated them in printed form for most people – without any oversight from Congress – in January 2017.
While wage earners over age 60 still receive printed Social Security Earnings statements unless they have signed up for online access, all evidence indicates that the vast majority of Americans now simply do not receive them at all – online or otherwise. A report released in February 2019 by the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General highlights a tremendous decline in overall access since the statements since the primarily online-only policy took place.
“Compared to 2010 when 155 million Social Security Statements were mailed to U.S. wage earners, the Inspector General report shows that just 31 million Americans received a statement in 2018 – either online or by mail,” wrote Coalition for Paper Options Executive Director John Runyan in a letter to the Ways & Means Committee in support of H.R. 3417. “In fact, the 14.6 million Social Security Earnings statements mailed in 2018 to workers over age 60 rivals the 16.8 million Americans of any age who are accessing their statements online. Lower income citizens and those with either little access to or interest in broadband Internet service are the citizens most likely to no longer receive the statement, but they are, of course, the populations that need it the most.”
In response, H.R. 3417 reinforces the need for the Social Security Administration to follow existing law – found in Section 1143 of the Social Security Act, which requires the Social Security Administration to provide a Social Security Statement annually, without request, to all individuals age 25 and older who are not receiving Social Security benefits.
After today’s markup, the bill now moves to the full House for consideration.
About the Coalition for Paper Options
The Coalition for Paper Options is an alliance of consumer organizations, labor unions, rural advocates, and print communications industry organizations and employees who recognize the need to preserve access to important paper-based information and services for Americans who prefer them or depend on them. While the Coalition for Paper Options supports the use of technology, we believe that the government and private sector should promote digital services and information without discriminating against citizens who want or need more traditional access. By giving Americans a choice, we can bridge the digital divide and save millions of dollars – without shifting cost burdens to citizens who can least afford them. For more information and a list of members, visit www.paperoptions.org.