Critter Corner: What Changed With the Social Security Statement?

Hayek 1Dear Hayek,

I heard that the Social Security Benefits Statement has undergone a visual overhaul.  What can I expect to see on the newly designed statement? Will the new format be mailed to current and former beneficiaries or only available online?

Thanks for your help!

Dee Zine

Dear Dee,

You are correct. The Social Security Statement, which features information about earnings history and expected future benefits, has been completely redesigned and features more information in a clearer, more visual format.

The redesign, unveiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) on Oct. 4, 2021, features the following:

  • a quicker, cleaner overview of their Social Security outlook for current and future beneficiaries;
  • two pages of boxes, charts, and graphs to replace the formerly text-heavy document;
  • personalized estimates of retirement, disability, and survivor benefits, previously listed on page 2 of the statement, will now appear right up front, in a bar chart and a set of labeled gray boxes;
  • a streamlined format that makes it easier to find information at a glance, helping to simplify complex programs for the public;
  • a prominently featured chart that shows projected monthly retirement benefits, based on past and current income, if claimed at any age from 62 to 70;
  • a table laying out your lifetime earnings that were subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes;
  • an accounting of how much you’ve paid in Security and Medicare taxes;
  • bullet points on benefit calculations and eligibility, condensed from wordier explanations that appeared in past versions of the statement;
  • an estimate of your disability benefit if you become unable to work and what your spouse and children could receive if you pass away.

Will the New Format Be Mailed to Current and Former Beneficiaries?

The SSA originally introduced the statements in 1999 as a tool to help future beneficiaries incorporate anticipated Social Security income into their financial planning. They were initially mailed every year to workers ages 25 and over who were not yet receiving any form of benefit.

Starting in the early 2010s, the SSA began phasing out paper mailers and focused on providing beneficiary information and services online. Hard copies are now automatically sent only once, to workers nearing age 60 who do not have My Social Security accounts, but you can still request a paper version by mail at any age.

The new format will be distributed online via My Social Security accounts, although AARP is backing federal legislation that would require the SSA to resume regularly sending paper copies to people age 25 and up, as it did until a decade ago. If you have a My Social Security account, you can view, save and print an up-to-date version of your statement at any time. If you don’t have an account, you can of course create one at any time!

Hope this helps!

Hayek

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