The federal financial crunch has claimed another casualty: As of Tuesday, the Social Security Administration is no longer sending out annual earnings and benefits statements to millions of Americans, according to an internal notice.
“Effective immediately, SSA is suspending the mailing of all Social Security statements because of the current budget situation,” the notice says. The online service for requesting a statement has also been disabled, the notice continues. Nor can the public use Form SSA-7004 to make a request.
Indeed, type “statement” into the search engine on the Social Security Administration’s web site, and you’ll end up at a page advising that because of the budget situation, “we have suspended issuing Social Security statements.” But don’t fear: “You may be able to estimate your retirement benefit using our online Retirement Estimator,” the agency adds.
Like other federal agencies, SSA is generally operating at last year’s spending levels because Congress has failed to agree on a budget for this fiscal year. So far, however, the impasse appears to have hit America’s favorite retirement program harder than most. Last July, Commissioner Michael Astrue ordered a partial hiring freeze. Earlier this month, the agency announced an end to most employee overtime. In congressional testimony earlier this month, Astrue put the cost of printing and mailing the statements at about $70 million.
[Updated at 1:50 p.m. on March 30 to reflect the yearly costs associated with the statements.]