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SSA says online system working well

New Jersey readers of this blog may recall our discussion in May of the Social Security Administration's move to an online records access system for the public. Workers now can use this system to verify their SSA benefits records.

The SSA reports that since May 1, nearly 1 million people have signed up to look at their Social Security accounts. How many of them may be receiving Social Security disability benefits is unclear. The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports that users give the system a high rating, a score of 89.

Users must create an account online to access the system at www.SocialSecurity.gov. Creating an account requires the entry of the user's Social Security number, a mailing address in the United States and a working e-mail address.

The SSA is taking precautions to ensure that users only have access to their own benefits statements by using information maintained by the Experian credit bureau. Users will have to answer questions about past addresses and loans, as well as other personal information on file with the credit bureau, in order to access their statements.

The SSA accepts requests to correct earnings records and accessing the online system is an excellent way to check that the agency has the right records on file. In fact, the agency reports that many users are calling with corrections after viewing their statements, confirming the apparent value of the online system.

Some things to note: Users who are less familiar with computers might find the security questions challenging. Any individual with a Social Security number can still obtain paper statements via mail by calling the agency to request them. Beneficiaries also can bring personal identification to a local Social Security office and get a statement there.

It remains imperative that all workers check their statements carefully and often to ensure that they receive all of the benefits to which they are entitled in the future.

Source: Star-Telegram, "Savvy Consumer: Social Security makes benefits statement available online," Teresa McUsic, June 29, 2012

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