Social Security Mass Mailing : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I saw a piece on television the other day that said that the Social Security Administration is going to send statements to EVERYBODY in the country. Their "reason" is they want to make everyone aware of their current status vis-a-vis retirement benefits so that they can plan for their futures accordingly. This mailing (one of the largest in history they said) is going to cost $70 million. Not word one about Y2K. Seems like a little pre-planning to me, though. However, I have tried to find newspaper coverage of this or even something on the television station's website, but can't find a thing. I thought for sure you all would be discussing it here - but no. I'm beginning to think I dreamed the whole thing. Has anyone else seen or heard anything about this mailing?

-- Jean Shift (, October 05, 1999


Here's a link to a CNN article about it

-- Don (, October 05, 1999.

I got mine back in March or April.

-- King of Free Estimates (your@town.USA), October 05, 1999.

JEAN: Yes, they will be mailing statements to everyone for which they have a SS number and a record of employment, that is not yet drawing benefits.

I myself have considered that there is only two plausable explanations. Either someone is attempting to actually be helpful and informative to their clientele (us), or they are spending this $70M for another less obvious reason.

Might it be that it is a prudent contingency plan so as to assure that every potential "beneficiary" has an offical record of their potential entitlement at the close of 1999, for reference in the future, should other sources for the information be difficult to determine?

In either case I am glad it is being done and applaud the person(s) who came up with the idea.

With respect,

-- Dave Walden (, October 05, 1999.

didn't even corealate the two!!

must be gettin' old...nice catch!

-- Billy-Boy (, October 05, 1999.

Don, thanks for the link - it wasn't a dream after all!

I see from the article that Congress voted in 1989 to make these mailings required, and that they will be continual. Everyone will get a statement each year. The fact that it was voted on in 1989 makes me think it's NOT Y2K related, but I question why it took a full 10 years to make it happen.

-- Jean Shift (, October 05, 1999.

Dave it is my understanding this is the first wave of mailings the last of which is not on the agenda till next year. I could be wrong.

-- David Lee Roth (Diver Down@Van Halen.ou812), October 05, 1999.

I heard the President at the tail end of a speech saying the reason they were mailing SSA reports to 185 Americans was so that they would have the information to plan their retirement income. LOL!

-- Leslie (***@***.net), October 05, 1999.

It's a lagged mailing. The statements going out now are for those whose birthdays are in January. In November, they will mail out statements for February birthday people; in December, March birthday people, etc., spread out over a year.

-- restless (, October 05, 1999.

Actually, although the idea is good, it wasn't originally planned for Y2K. It was originally mandated by congress 10 years ago...

I suspect that a major part of the idea behind the mailing is to shock some potential recipients into instituting their own retirement savings plans. Social Security doesn't exactly pay for a posh retirement. At one point, I was looking at retiring in Mexico, for the cost of living benefits. The point: Look at putting something into that 401K plan (but not until after the first of the year...).

-- Mad Monk (, October 05, 1999.

A couple from my church, my GI friends, called Social Security to get their updated benefits statement last week and were told that the entire country would soon be getting one. They called to tell me, saying this sure told them something about concerns at the SSA.

-- Elaine SEavey (, October 06, 1999.

Saturday September 25, 1999 1:00 a.m. EDT

New Social Security Statements on the Way

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Social Security Administration will begin mailing annual contribution and benefit statements to 125 million workers on Oct. 1, offering help to Americans who are preparing for retirement - and a nudge to those who aren't.

``It's a good financial planning tool,'' said Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel. ``We're hoping it will help people understand what Social Security can provide, but also encourage them to do further planning for retirement savings.''

In the past, the Social Security statements have been available upon request, and 37 million Americans have asked for theirs since 1988.

Starting Oct. 1, the personalized letters will be mailed automatically, in batches of 500,000 a day, timed so that every worker over age 25 will receive an updated one each year about three months before his or her birthday.

Congress voted in 1989 to require the mailings, which at 56 cents a letter will cost about $70 million a year. Because of the personal nature of the information, Social Security officials said the letters will be mailed first class.

Commercial Data Center Inc., a printing company located outside Dayton, Ohio, which got the contract for the job, has hired 20 new employees and will be dropping off 40,000 pounds of mail a day at the city's airport.

Not even the Internal Revenue Service does a bigger mailing to American households each year when tax forms go out.

The Social Security Administration has been gearing up for the enormous task since 1995, by sending sample statements to about 73 million people, most over age 40. The statements have been simplified during the course of the test to a four-page format that includes:

A two-column chart showing annual earnings for each year subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes from a person's first job to 1998. These numbers are significant because the amount of future Social Security benefits depend, in part, on a person's past earnings and tax contributions. In 1998, all earnings were subject to a 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax and earnings up to $68,400 were subject to a 6.2 percent Social Security tax.

The total amount of taxes a person has paid into the retirement system over the years, and separately, what his or her employers have paid. Employers must match employees' Social Security and Medicare contributions.

Estimates of monthly retirement benefits assuming a person continued earning at his or her current salary level until retiring early at age 62; on time at 65, 66 or 67; or late at age 70. The age of eligibility for full Social Security benefits is scheduled to rise incrementally to 67 from 65. Those who choose to retire even later get higher monthly benefits.

Estimates of monthly disability benefits if a worker became disabled today.

Estimates of survivor benefits a worker's family would receive if the worker died this year.

The letter also gives a toll-free telephone number that people are urged to call if they find mistakes in their statements. Social Security officials expect to get about 233,000 such calls during the coming year.

Some people getting the new statements may be pleasantly surprised to discover that Social Security provides financial protection for the young as well as the old. Polls have shown that the program's disability and survivor benefits are not widely understood.

For many, however, the statements are likely to be a wake-up call, showing just how modest a retirement income Social Security provides, said Don Blandin, president of the American Savings Education Council.

``There's a very important line in the letter: 'Social Security benefits were not intended to be the only source of income for you and your family when you retire,''' said Blandin, whose group runs a public service campaign encouraging people to save.

Financial planners generally tell working people that they will need about 70 percent of their present income to live comfortably when they retire. For average earners, Social Security benefits will replace only about 40 percent.

Social Security's own looming financial problems are also acknowledged in the letters. The program is expected to run short of cash in 2034, and lawmakers remain sharply divided over the best remedy.

In an introductory message to the new statements, Apfel says, ``The program has changed in the past to meet the demands of the times and must do so again.''

-- Old Git (, October 06, 1999.

Funny, I did get a statement "out of the blue" a few months ago. I wonder if I'll get another now? <:)=

-- Sysman (, October 06, 1999.

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