Research & Analysis by Barbara A. Smith
Hispanics' Understanding of Social Security and the Implications for Retirement Security: A Qualitative Study
This article discusses why effective outreach to Hispanics is important to improve their understanding of Social Security and enhance their retirement security. It examines Social Security literacy and preferred ways of receiving information about the program by using focus groups of three ancestries (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban) and of English and Spanish speakers. This article is one of the first to research between-group differences and discuss their implications.
Public pension statements are one way for countries to provide workers with information about their retirement benefits. This article compares public pension statements in Canada, Sweden, and the United States. The comparison includes brief descriptions of the public pension programs in each country, details on the origins and content of the public pension statements, and an assessment of the information provided in the three countries' respective public pension statements.
The Social Security Administration began mailing annual earnings and benefit statements to workers aged 60 or older in 1995, and increased its mailings to include workers in younger age groups in succeeding years. In 1998, the agency commissioned the Gallup Organization to evaluate the effects of these statements on the public's knowledge of Social Security programs and benefits. This article briefly describes the development and implementation of the Social Security Statement; discusses the Gallup surveys conducted in 1998 and 2001; and uses data from those surveys to compare, for workers aged 46 or younger, knowledge about Social Security before and after receipt of the Social Security Statement.
In 1995, the Social Security Administration (SSA) began mailing annual earnings and benefit statements to workers aged 60 or older. By 2000, SSA was sending these statements to all workers aged 25 or older. It was the largest customized mailing ever undertaken by a federal agency. This article describes the development and implementation of the Social Security Statement; the changes in its distribution, content, and appearance over time; its relationship to SSA's strategic plans; and the surveys SSA commissioned to measure public awareness and knowledge of Social Security.