Starting October 1, the Social Security Administration will launch an ambitious project: the annual mailing of individual Social Security Statements to the 125 million American workers over the age of 25 not yet receiving Social Security benefits. Individuals should expect to receive their four-page statement approximately three months before their birth month.
"The Social Security Statement is a valuable tool that will help Americans prepare for their long-term financial security," said Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel. "It puts the future in their hands."
The statement is designed to help workers with their personal financial planning by providing estimates of their expected retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits. It will also allow workers an opportunity to ensure that their personal information and earnings record have been accurately posted.
The initiative is the result of efforts by New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to provide all Americans with an annual statement of their potential benefits. The statements are required by the 1989 and 1990 Omnibus Reconciliation Acts.
Given the recent and ongoing public debate about the future of Social Security, the time is right to ensure that American workers have at least some fundamental understanding of the program. A recent Gallup survey indicated that receiving a statement increased Americans' understanding of Social Security. Those receiving a statement were significantly more likely to know 1) that the amount of benefits depends upon one's earnings; 2) that benefits are available to disabled workers; 3) that benefits are available to dependents; and 4) that Social Security is only intended to provide a portion of retirement income.
The operation will be the largest customized mailing ever undertaken by a Federal agency. It will require 500,000 statements to be mailed each working day. Each statement costs approximately 56¢ to produce and mail, for a total cost of approximately $70 million. More information, and a sample statement, can be found at www.ssa.gov.
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