Social Security Goes Fully Paperless

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my Social Security

I just finished creating my own Social Security account online, giving it a very secure password. You should do the same. If you don’t, someone else might be able to create an account for you by answering a series of security questions. Granted, the questions are tough questions for someone else to guess, but I prefer to have a much more difficult to guess secure password.

Here is an article by Mary Beth Franklin of InvestmentNews entitled “Social Security goes fully paperless” in which she writes:

Financial advisers were among the most vocal critics when the Social Security Administration first suspended mailing annual benefit statements to workers as a cost-saving measure in mid-2011.

The mailing of these documents that are so crucial to the financial planning process resumed temporarily last year, but only to workers 60 and older who weren’t yet receiving Social Security benefits. Now the paper chase is history.

Full-fledged Social Security benefit statements, which include retirement benefit estimates at various ages and a personal earnings history, are still available. But you have to go online to retrieve the information.

This is actually an improvement on the prior process in which you had to request a paper copy (assuming the client did not have their latest paper copy received in the mail) and it would take several days for the Social Security Administration to create and mail it.

Mary Beth Franklin also reminds benefit recipients:

Benefit payments are also going digital-only.

Remind your clients that if they are receiving Social Security checks by mail, they must switch to direct deposit by March. They can set up direct deposits online at the Social Security website or by calling (800) 772-1213.

Finally, here is the website where you can go online and claim your own Social Security account and protect it with a secure password:

Claim your own account so that someone else doesn’t!

Anyone 18 or older can sign up for an online Social Security account. To do so, he or she must provide a Social Security number, mailing address and a valid e-mail address.

In an effort to thwart identify theft, individuals must be able to answer questions that only they are likely to know that match information on file with Social Security and in their credit report.

For example, when I went through the account setup process, I was asked questions related to former employers and my previous residences.

Sal Guariano, vice president of government services at Experian Information Solutions Inc., who oversees the online verification project with the SSA, calls these “out of the wallet” questions.

“Even if your wallet had been stolen and your data compromised in the past, these are questions a fraudster couldn’t answer,” he said. “Within seconds, we can match our robust credit and demographic records behind the scenes.”

I’m not convinced. I knew the questions readily enough. They weren’t too hard to guess if someone had done some research. I’m glad to have added a secure password to the process as well as sending me a text message every time someone logs into my account.

Follow David John Marotta:

President, CFP®, AIF®, AAMS®

David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. In addition to his financial writing, David is a co-author of The Haunting of Bob Cratchit.