SSA translates benefits online

SSA's My Statement home page

The Social Security Administration has come up with its own Rosetta stone to help the public understand the projected benefits statements the agency issues annually.

Every worker will receive a statement in English, but SSA will make samples of the statement available online in six languages: Spanish, Italian, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog. Samples have been posted online since Nov. 27 at

Just as the Rosetta stone provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics, SSA spokeswoman Carolyn Cheezum said the online translations can help workers with weak or no English reading skills understand the projected benefits statements.

SSA has provided the "Wanda Worker" statement — named after the fictitious employee on the English version of the sample form — since October 1999. The four-page form is mailed out three months before a person's birthday. It shows how much money has gone into a worker's Social Security retirement account and indicates how much a worker can expect to draw in future benefits.

With the official English version in hand, workers more comfortable with one of the languages covered online can figure out the statement by comparing the two, Cheezum said.

"They can print out one from online and lay it down side-by-side with their individual statement and get an idea of what they'll receive from Social Security," she said.

The online samples should be a great help to non-English readers, said Daphne Kwok, executive director of the national chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans in Washington, D.C.

"Any material that can be translated to further explain the various processes [of government] is beneficial to all groups," she said. "There is a high percentage of Asian Americans who are immigrants and English is not their first language. And Social Security is such a complicated issue — even in English."

The agency is working on putting the sample online in even more languages, Cheezum said.


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