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Canadian, Swedish, and U.S. Public Pension Statements: A Comparison

May 2017

All three countries provide estimates of expected retirement benefits

Canada and the United States also provide a record of earnings so statement recipients can verify that their earnings record is accurate.

Each country disseminates its public pension statement differently

Sweden mails a public pension statement annually. Canada mailed statements at irregular intervals before suspending the mailing completely in 2014, although workers can still request a statement. The United States mailed statements to all eligible workers aged 25 or older before restricting the mailings in 2014 to workers in select age categories, and in 2016 to those aged 60 or older. All three countries provide online access to their public pension statements.

All three countries have conducted evaluations of their public pension statements, with each country taking a different approach

Sweden conducts annual evaluations, with the questions focused primarily on whether the recipients read and understood the information. Canada conducted age-targeted surveys from 1999 through 2006 that had a similar focus. By contrast, the United States' evaluations attempted to assess the public's knowledge and understanding of Social Security benefits and programs through surveys conducted between 1998 and 2010.

  • Greater individual responsibility for retirement savings along with longevity increases and pension structure changes make it important for governments to provide workers with information about their public retirement benefits.
  • Public pensions programs are the foundation of retirement income for many workers, so it is essential that workers know how much they will receive.
  • To adequately inform workers about their public pensions, statements must: present clear, appropriate content; ensure content is easily available; and evaluate the content and dissemination regularly.
  • Public pension statement is a statement of earnings and benefits that may also contain information about future changes to the public pension program.
  • Statement of Contributions is Canada's public pension statement.
Canadian, Swedish, and U.S. Public Pension Statements: A Comparison
Comparison category Canada Sweden United States
Retirement ages 60 (early)
65 (full)
Up to 70 (deferred)
Flexible beginning at age 61; no upper limit 62 (early)
66 or 67 (full)
Up to 70 (deferred)
First mailing 1984 1999 1995
Frequency Last mass mailing occurred in 2013; Statement of Contributions (SOCs) can still be requested Yearly (from February through March) Yearly (sent 3 months before recipient's birthday)
Current recipients Persons aged 18 or older who earn a wage or salary and have contributed to the Canadian Pension Plan can request SOCs Anyone aged 28 or older who has contributed during the previous year; with no contributions, at ages 22, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 64 Persons 60 or older who have not yet set up an online account or started receiving benefits
Special insert or mailing Inserts not included with requested SOCs New labor force entrants, current workers, and old-age pensioners Persons aged 60 or older
Pension projection ages 60, 65, and 70 61 and 70 62, 66 or 67, and 70
Online access Since 2005 Since 2004 Since 2012
Surveys 1999–2006 Annual 1998–2004; 2008–2010
 

SOURCE: Kritzer, Barbara E., and Barbara A. Smith. 2016. “Public Pension Statements in Selected Countries: A Comparison,” Social Security Bulletin 76(1) 27–56.

NOTES: All content is simplified for presentation. Please see source material for full details and caveats.

The findings and conclusions presented in this summary are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the agency.