SSA introduces new personalized online statements
The Social Security Administration is now allowing millions of American adults with Social Security numbers to register with the agency online and access a personalized statement about their reported income and anticipated benefits.
Since the debut of the online Social Security Statement last week, about 130,000 people have created online accounts at SSA.gov allowing them online access to their statements.
Michael Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, said the new online statement is easy to use provides useful information for financial planning.
“I am pleased with the public’s initial response to our new online Social Security Statement,” Astrue said in a news release on May 7. “People should get in the habit of checking their online statement each year.”
However, some citizens are expected to have problems registering for the new service. The SSA confirmed that some individuals are likely to be unsuccessful in registering for an online account if the personal information they submit does not match what is contained in SSA’s records. The agency did not specify how many people might be affected by verification problems.
Some people may not be able to correctly answer the security questions they are asked in the registration; the questions are based on information about the individual that the SSA already has on file, the agency said. Other people may supply identifying information that differs from what the SSA has on file.
“In instances where this occurs, people will have the option to request a paper Social Security Statement be mailed to them. People who cannot verify online initially also may visit their local Social Security office and present an identity document in order to create an account and gain access to the online version of the statement,” the SSA said in a statement.
Historically, the SSA database has been known to contain a number of errors, primarily due to unauthorized individuals who steal or borrow Social Security numbers. For example, the Homeland Security Department’s E-Verify program has an a initial error rate of 2.6 percent, according to a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office. The E-Verify program primarily relies on the SSA database for its identity verification.Many of the initial errors are later corrected with further adjudication and additional data.
A December 2009 study found that half the unauthorized users of E-Verify were undetected by the system, suggesting that many users were using lost, stolen or borrowed Social Security numbers.
SSA officials did not respond to a request for comment about current error rates in the SSA database and anticipated problems related to those error rates.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.