A Critical Review of “Your Social Security Statement” - Retirement Daily
The Social Security Administration has been making substantial strides in improving the format of one of the most important pieces of information available to those planning their retirement finances–“Your Social Security Statement.” It’s available in two formats: (1) the online version, and (2) the printed/mailed version. The information contained in this statement serves as a vital tool for anyone assessing how Social Security benefits fit into their future financial arrangements, and it goes a long way toward answering many of the basic questions folks aging into Social Security typically have. And it’s easy to get…simply visit the SSA.gov website, click on the “my Social Security” tab, and you’ll be walked through the process to create your own account.
In some respects, the format of the personal statement is a work in progress. Retirement Daily Guest Contributor Marcia Mantell, RMA, in a post today on their website, examines the current statement layout and cites some of the pros and cons associated with the useability of the design, including her views on critical elements of information still missing from the statement content. Her analysis, for example, calls attention to the omission of estimated benefits at one’s full retirement age, as well as the absence of a full earnings history, and further concludes that the manner in which the information is displayed can lead to a misconception of how Social Security benefit payouts change based on when they’re claimed. On the plus side, she notes the inclusion of information on topics like Social Security’s “earnings test” and the actual amount of taxes individuals and employers have paid.
Ms. Mantell’s analysis suggests that “…there is a considerable amount of critical information eliminated or greatly scaled back on in this new statement. You can dig for it after you log in. It is there somewhere. But if you don’t even know to look, you’re out of luck.” If you do find yourself having a problem filling in the blanks, so to speak, know that the AMAC Foundation’s free-to-the-public Social Security Advisory Service is available to help you out. Learn more about this service on the Foundation’s website.