Research and Analysis by Barbara A. Smith
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.