SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLETES FIRST FULL YEAR OF MAILING
ANNUAL SOCIAL SECURITY STATEMENTS
UNVEILS TWO NEW FINANCIAL PLANNING TOOLS
Today, Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel unveiled two more features designed to help workers with their financial planning. First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is expanding its online Benefits Planner, the electronic service on SSA's Internet site - www.ssa.gov - which allows workers to compute customized estimates of future Social Security benefits online, to include important information on disability and survivors benefits. Also beginning this month, workers age 55 years and older will receive a special insert in their annual Social Security Statement. The insert provides important information on retirement options that workers need to consider as they approach retirement age.
"It's never too early to begin planning for retirement," said Commissioner Apfel. "Too many workers leave retirement planning on auto-pilot. As a result, when they get to the end of the road, many workers find that they are not financially prepared to live their dream retirement. The new Social Security Statement insert serves as an important reminder to get prepared -- retirement is rapidly approaching."
The online Planner that SSA launched in April is evolving from strictly a Retirement Planner into a Benefits Planner containing a Retirement Planner, Disability Planner and Survivors Planner. Each planner contains valuable information about retirement, disability and survivors benefits and factors that can affect them. The Planner's online calculators, which previously provided only estimates of retirement benefits, have been enhanced to add estimates for disability and survivors benefits.
In addition, SSA has expanded the Retirement Planner to include a link to the American Savings Education Council's (ASEC's) Ballpark Estimate worksheet. The link to the Ballpark worksheet enables individuals to combine their estimate of future Social Security benefits with estimates of income from pensions and savings to determine if they are saving enough for a comfortable retirement.
"Linking SSA's Benefits planner with ASEC's Ballpark estimate worksheet provides one-stop retirement planning," stated Commissioner Apfel.
An Earnings Limit Calculator has also been added to the Retirement Planner. The Earnings Limit Calculator lets workers compute the effect of earnings on their Social Security retirement benefit.
This month also marks the 1-year anniversary of the Social Security Statement. The Statement provides customized benefit estimates and earnings information to individuals age 25 and older who are not receiving benefits. During the past year, SSA has mailed 133 million Statements to American workers to overwhelming positive public support.
"The public has told us that they appreciate receiving the Statement," commented Commissioner Apfel. "The Statement is not only providing information that is useful and easy to understand, it is also prompting millions of Americans to take action to better prepare for retirement."
Beginning this month, workers age 55 years and older will receive a special insert with their Statement that will help them make important retirement planning decisions before reaching retirement age. The insert highlights the various factors workers nearing retirement need to consider, such as the long-term effects of taking a reduced benefit or the impact work would have on their benefit.
"American workers need easily accessible financial planning tools to help them with retirement decisions," noted Commissioner Apfel. "The Social Security Administration is making every effort to put these tools within easy reach of workers -- in their mailboxes and on their computers. I would encourage every worker to take advantage of these tools."
NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: Fact sheets with additional information about the Benefits Planner and the Social Security Statement insert are available below ...
of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information
are available at SSAs Internet site, Social Security
Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.
Also look there for information on subscribing to SSAs
free electronic newsletter, Social Security e-news.
SSA Press Office 4-H-9
West High Rise 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973