Last March, the Social Security Administration suspended mailing – to all Americans under age 60 – an annual statement letting them know what their monthly check would be when they retire. The agency says it was responding to a “bleak” budget projection. The mailings, mandated by Congress in 1989, cost $70 million a year, or one-half of 1% of the agency’s $11.7-billion administrative budget. The agency is working to restore the mailings, but promises to replace the paper statements with an online version that will look “hauntingly” like the old paper statements. Advocates for the disadvantaged say this is not a substitute. “People are not always temperamentally, culturally or psychologically able to go online, especially to get problems resolved,” says Kevin McVeigh, who works with clients in rural Greenfield, Mass. “They’re not used to using computers or don’t have access.”

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