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Social Security Administration halts mailing of benefit statements because of budget crunch

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The federal financial crunch has claimed another casualty: As of Tuesday, the Social Security Administration is no longer sending out annual earnings and benefits statements to millions of Americans, according to an internal notice.

“Effective immediately, SSA is suspending the mailing of all Social Security statements because of the current budget situation,” the notice says. The online service for requesting a statement has also been disabled, the notice continues. Nor can the public use Form SSA-7004 to make a request.

Indeed, type “statement” into the search engine on the Social Security Administration’s web site, and you’ll end up at a page advising that because of the budget situation, “we have suspended issuing Social Security statements.”  But don’t fear: “You may be able to estimate your retirement benefit using our online Retirement Estimator,” the agency adds.

Like other federal agencies, SSA is generally operating at last year’s spending levels because Congress has failed to agree on a budget for this fiscal year.  So far, however, the impasse appears to have hit America’s favorite retirement program harder than most. Last July, Commissioner Michael Astrue ordered a partial hiring freeze. Earlier this month, the agency announced an end to most employee overtime. In congressional testimony earlier this month, Astrue put the cost of printing and mailing the statements at about $70 million.

[Updated at 1:50 p.m. on March 30 to reflect the yearly costs associated with the statements.]

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Comments

  1. Terry Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    If they discontinue this information, what are we supposed to use for verification of SS income when applying for other grants and financial aid? That is the 1st document they ask for before they even talk to you!

  2. Barbara Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Comment to Terry. I think that are talking about the retirement estimator, showing how much you paid into SS and how how you may receive when you retire. Not how much you have been paid by SS during a given year. SS still has to send that out as people have to use it to pay their taxes.

  3. Debbie Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Why can’t they just set it up so we can access our account online?

  4. Don Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    My family and friends rely on this statement to know their Disability, Survivor and Retirement benefits. They use it for planning their future. Sorry to hear this is happening. Seems like cuts in other ares should be looked at first.

  5. Don Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Reply to 1. Terry–you will have to visit your Social Security office and get the verification needed plan on a long wait . maybe you can get it by calling the 800#–but you will have to wait for the mail. Options aren’t good

  6. Rita Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Don’t blame SSA, blame Congress and the President.

  7. Regina D Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    There are plans to make it available online.

  8. SSA/ODAR worker Says:
    March 31st, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Reply to Debbie: As convenient as it would be to have online access, even with the protections in place now, it would not be as secure as you, the customer, need it to be. SSA does not have the technical resources now, and the way things are going, won’t in the future, to provide the level of security needed for unlimited online access, and this is why you get exactly what we can provide securely, and no more than that. Why is this? Because the massive, agency-wide upgrade needed to provide the service levels we’d like is too expensive. Therefore, with the money we have, now less than the 2009 level, we’ll provide what we can.

  9. Mike Samples Says:
    April 1st, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    For 2008 the SSA failed to post my correct earnings. The only way I knew was thru the annual statement sent out. The retirement estimator does not address this issue unless it allows access to the same information as contained in the annual statement.

    How are we to verify correct earning are posted to our account?

  10. DJH Says:
    April 1st, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    You think this is bad, wait until Congress and the President starts letting go 150,000 more Federal employees! Great idea to save money. Federal employees didn’t create the Trillion dollar debt, it was Congress and the Dems so stop blaming and letting go the Federal Employees

  11. JCD Says:
    April 2nd, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Bush added 97,000 employees to the Fed’l govt in his 8 years, Obama has already added over 150,000 PLUS raised all salaries by 30% so what is the gov’t doing now that they weren’t doing 2 years ago??? Balancing the budget is simple go back to the last time that the budget was balanced under Clinton. Time to reduce gov’t bureaucrats AND the money it costs to keep them busy–because that is all we are paying for now is “make work” to justify their existence.
    Sorry– not buying the fact that SS Admin can’t mail statements–that is just an excuse to get people upset so they will call their congress critter and tell them to increase the budget. Red Herring!!

  12. TA Says:
    April 12th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    The benefits are not guaranteed, and never were. The program CAN change the benefit amount any time, and will hopefully be reducing benefits as soon as possible. Social Security is in dangerous imbalance, paying out at a rate that cannot be sustained. So people should be very careful not to rely on what the projections are.

    Mailing out written statements is a relatively recent tactic. I suspect the mailings were started to build up more political support, and get people to say they “relied” on the “promise,” making it even more difficult to trim this program back to actuarially sound levels.

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