SSA to Provide Some Information, but not SSN Printout

Empire Justice September 30, 2014

It has been an on again, off again, on again time with respect to the Social Security Administration (SSA) giving out information to its “customers.”  The agency used to provide benefit verification letters to recipients, but discontinued that practice.  The agency also used to send out periodic mailings of wage earners’ Social Security Statements, but stopped doing that too. In the past, SSA would also issue Social Security number printouts to its constituents, but eliminated that service as well.

The public outcry at SSA’s decision to jettison these public service activities has not fallen on deaf ears.  In July, SSA issued a press release advising the public that it was rescinding its decision to cease providing benefit verification letters.  According to SSA, “[P]roviding services when and where the public needs them remains central to Social Security’s efforts, while continuing to encourage federal, state, and local agencies to take advantage of Social Security’s data exchange programs that can serve customers more efficiently and effectively.”

Similarly, SSA has renewed its practice of sending out periodic Social Security Statements to wage earners.  According to Acting SSA Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, the agency “listened to our customers, advocates, and Congress; and renewing the mailing of the Statement reinforces our commitment to provide the public with an easy, efficient way to obtain an estimate of their future Social Security benefits.”  After age 60, people will receive a Statement every year.  Before that age, workers will receive a Statement every five years.

SSA recommends that “everyone” create a my Social Security account where they would have ready access to both benefit verification information and Social Security Statements. These personal accounts can be set up at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Despite this about face in providing some information to the public, SSA is holding fast to its decision to eliminate issuance of Social Security number printouts in its field offices.  This policy went into effect on August 1, 2014.  More information on this policy change is available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/reference.nsf/links/08012014101744AM.