A message from Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security:
About a year ago, I took the unprecedented step to close our offices to the public. I did this to keep our employees and you—the public we serve—safe. As we enter year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines and other precautionary measures give us cause for hope. For now, we will continue our current safety measures as described in our COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. This plan is iterative, and we will update it as we receive additional government-wide guidance and information from public health experts in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We understand that the public wants to engage with us on some matters in person, and our local offices are integral to our communities. We also know that not everyone can conveniently come to us in person and that when you do visit, you want the process to be efficient. For example, we may need evidence from you, but we do not need to interview you in person. We are currently testing drop box and express appointment options for the public to bring in documentation.
Often, you only need to know your Social Security number and do not need a physical Social Security card. However, if you do need to replace your card, we are testing video appointments if you need a new Social Security card but do not need to change any of the information in our records. Although ideas like these began as solutions during COVID-19, we are considering how they could improve service in the future.
Some of these concepts also allow us to consider how we might continue to use telework, something that most organizations and companies have depended on during the COVID-19 pandemic, to drive longer-term operational efficiencies like reducing space. We could use those savings to provide you more online service options and hire more people to serve you more quickly as well as to retain outstanding employees. We will continue to engage our managers, employees, and unions on ways we could use telework to improve customer service and other issues.
You can find the full statement, and links to helpful resources, here.
Customers and I text all of the time. Usually for fun and friendliness. However, I often get serious questions via text/sms. Last night a Medicare client sent me this text.
AARP reports thatAmericans are concerned and even afraid for their retirement security. And the news headlines often don’t make them feel better. The latest is a claim from the National institute for Retirement Security that “A plurality of older Americans, 40.2 percent, only receive income from Social Security in retirement.” If true that’s very worrying. But does this frightening factoid hold up?
The NIRS report’s data source is the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (the SIPP). The SIPP surveys households by asking them a wide variety of questions, including the sources of their income. From the SIPP, NIRS declares that 40.2 percent of retirees receive all of their income from Social Security.
And yet, a 2017 study by researchers at the Social Security Administration, also using the SIPP, found that only 19.6% of Americans 65 and over received at least 90% of their total incomes from Social Security. That’s less than half the share of retirees than NIRS claims and SSA measures dependence using a lower bar—90% of total income rather than NIRS’s 100%. Clearly, there’s a conflict.
Moreover, a second 2017 study, from two Census Bureau economists, analyzed retirement incomes using IRS tax records, which are more accurate than households’ responses to a survey. The Census Bureau study found that only 12% of Americans aged 65+ received 90% or more of their income from Social Security. Again, it’s not clear how that is compatible with NIRS’s claim that over 40% of retirees receive all their income from Social Security.
From a policy perspective, one-fifth of retirees being heavily dependent on Social Security isn’t a huge problem: the poorest fifth of workers are indeed quite poor, and Social Security was designed to provide a retirement benefit for workers who can’t easily save on their own.
You can find the full article, including a discussion of why the NIRS data might be wrong, here.
According to AARP, one in 3 Tennesseans 67 and older are living on Social Security alone. To find out about poverty and the elderly learn more here.
Since 2012, the Social Security Administration has scaled back the mailing of paper statements after it established a website, My Social Security, that offered access to that information online. The agency was able to save on the costs of mailing paper records—in 2018, the total cost was $7.6 million, compared to $24 million in 2016. During those years, the cost per statement was 52 cents.
Heather Majka, Certified Social Security Claiming Strategist, Owner of Citizens Insurance Solutions
With over 25 years of industry experience, Heather is a subject matter expert. Heather has two adult children serving in the US military (Naval Aircrew and US Army). Heather's husband is a US Army SNIPER Veteran that served during Desert Storm. Heather has is a native New Yorker who has lived in Virginia, Texas, Florida, and now lives in Tennessee.