Effective retirement planning will involve having a firm understanding of the Social Security program. Most people will rely on Social Security to one extent or another so you have to know how much you can expect to receive when you do become eligible for the program.
Up until last year this information was made available to everyone on an annual basis via a Social Security statement that was sent out in the mail.
Imagine the administrative expenses involved in preparing and sending out tens of millions of these statements. Clearly, this is a large figure so the Social Security Administration decided to do away with the paper statements last year.
They are still sent to people who are over the age of 60, but if you are 60 years old or younger you must go to the Social Security website to access your statement electronically.
This effort to reduce administrative costs is being extended in 2013. As of the beginning of March of next year people who are receiving Social Security will no longer be able to select a paper check option.
You are going to have to either have your benefit deposited into your bank account or accept payment via a special preloaded debit MasterCard.
According to the Social Security Administration only about 10% of people who are receiving Social Security still get paper checks. But even at that the SSA states that the amount of money that will be saved over a 10 year period is somewhere in the vicinity of $1 billion.
It should be noted that this $1 billion figure is derived by adding some additional savings that will be realized through paperless payments being mandated for a handful of other government programs as well as Social Security.