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Highlights

The Social Security Statement (the statement) is the federal government's main document for communicating with more than 150 million workers about their Social Security benefits. Provided annually, it serves as a key financial literacy tool that can educate the public about Social Security Administration (SSA) program benefits, aid in financial planning, and ensure that workers' earnings records are complete and accurate. The statement is also a key tool for communicating with the public about the long-term financial challenges the Social Security system faces. However, due to budget constraints, SSA chose to suspend mailings of the statement in March 2011. GAO examined (1) the current status of the statement and (2) ways SSA plans to improve the usefulness of the statement. To address these issues, GAO interviewed SSA officials and reviewed agency documents and our prior work on the statement's understandability. GAO also provided a draft of this testimony to SSA for review and comment.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Social Security Administration The Commissioner of SSA should take steps to ensure access to the statement for all eligible workers, including those without Internet access or English proficiency. Doing so will assure that the statement remains an important tool for communicating with all workers about the Social Security program.
Closed - Implemented
On May 1, 2012, SSA began providing workers age 18 and over with access to their Social Security Statements online through the "my Social Security" online portal. In September 2014, SSA resumed mailing statements to workers who are not receiving Social Security benefits and who are not registered for the online portal. Statements are mailed to such workers at five year intervals beginning at age 25, and every year beginning at age 60. SSA has resumed mailings in both English and Spanish.

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