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Online Social Security Statement In Limbo

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the don't-worry-your-iou-is-totally-safe dept.

Government 160

coondoggie writes "While the debate over Social Security benefits is heating up in Congress, one of the most basic ways everyone interacts with the agency — the yearly Social Security Statement — is in limbo as the agency struggles to move it online. The Social Security Statement had been issued every year since 2000 to more than 150 million workers serving as the government's key way of communicating with workers about benefits, earnings records and how much retirement money they have. The statement is also a key tool for communicating with the public about the long-term financial challenges the Social Security system faces. However, whether you realize it or not, the SSA suspended mailings of the statement in March citing budgetary concerns."

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Grandma and the Internet (3, Insightful)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | about 3 years ago | (#36701182)

My grandma calls websites "double-u double-u double-u's". There's no frigging way that she could handle something like this online.

Re:Grandma and the Internet (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701246)

My grandma can't read. There's no way she could handle a long document with words printed on it.

Re:Grandma and the Internet (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#36701842)

These aren't for retired people, they're the (formerly) annual statements sent to workers listing their expected benefits based on previous FICA taxes paid.

Better sites (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#36702020)

These aren't for retired people, they're the (formerly) annual statements sent to workers listing their expected benefits based on previous FICA taxes paid.

I generally find for pure escapist fiction, I prefer Baen [baen.com] .

Anyone up for retirement more than ten years out better have arranged their own finances.

Re:Better sites (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 3 years ago | (#36702142)

Anyone up for retirement more than ten years out better have arranged their own finances.

you want to see pitchforks and torches? wait till the boomers retire and are told there is no money (or not enough) in the kitty.

if anything will cause a rebellion, THIS would be it. people HAVE paid into the fund and they do have a right to expect a payback after working 3/4 of their lives.

maybe if we had less wars (...) we'd be able to support OUR OWN FRIGGIN PEOPLE.

we all will retire. this affects us all.

I'm tired of stealing from our own people to line pockets of the aristocracy.

they better hope there is money in the fund. even old guys can put up a fight if they are pushed to poverty.

Re:Better sites (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#36702174)

maybe if we had less wars (...) we'd be able to support OUR OWN FRIGGIN PEOPLE.

Nope, whole military (and you have to admit we need some military) is a tiny portion of EXISTING social security outlays. Even cutting back the military drastically does very little to cover forward SS obligations.

Re:Better sites (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about 3 years ago | (#36702554)

Anyone up for retirement more than ten years out better have arranged their own finances.you want to see pitchforks and torches? wait till the boomers retire and are told there is no money (or not enough) in the kitty. if anything will cause a rebellion, THIS would be it. people HAVE paid into the fund and they do have a right to expect a payback after working 3/4 of their lives. maybe if we had less wars (...) we'd be able to support OUR OWN FRIGGIN PEOPLE. we all will retire. this affects us all. I'm tired of stealing from our own people to line pockets of the aristocracy. they better hope there is money in the fund. even old guys can put up a fight if they are pushed to poverty.

The smartest thing this government could do is to stop taking taxes out of the people closest to retirement, less than 20 years out but we all know that isn't going to happen anywhere this side of year 2511. The fact that this government would rather see people about to retire, die is more likely.
It's time for these politicians to live like the majority of the population, no job, no health-care, no house, no pension after 35 of saving, then, maybe, they will get it.

Re:Better sites (3, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 3 years ago | (#36702336)

Anyone up for retirement more than ten years out better have arranged their own finances.

Although I enjoy cranky anti-government fantasies too, it's better to stay closer to reality. The Republicans are beating this anti-Social Security line because they want to say, "Social Security isn't going to be there for you, so let's end it and save you all those tax deductions" (which are the lowest in the developed world).

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/cockroach-ideas/ [nytimes.com]
Conscience of a Liberal
Cockroach Ideas
By PAUL KRUGMAN
March 13, 2011, 12:57 pm

“the Social Security trust fund doesn’t exist”

If Ronald Reagan had said, back in the 1980s, “Let’s increase a regressive tax that falls mainly on the working class, while cutting taxes that fall mainly on much richer people,” he would have faced a political firestorm. But because the increase in the regressive payroll tax was recommended by the Greenspan Commission to support Social Security, it was politically in a different box – you might even call it a lockbox – from Reagan’s tax cuts.

Their answer to the pretty good numbers is to say that the trust fund is meaningless, because it’s invested in U.S. government bonds. They aren’t really saying that government bonds are worthless; their point is that the whole notion of a separate budget for Social Security is a fiction.

But there are two problems with their position.

The lesser problem is that if you say that there is no link between the payroll tax and future Social Security benefits – which is what denying the reality of the trust fund amounts to – then Greenspan and company pulled a fast one back in the 1980s: they sold a regressive tax switch, raising taxes on workers while cutting them on the wealthy, on false pretenses. More broadly, we’re breaking a major promise if we now, after 20 years of high payroll taxes to pay for Social Security’s future, declare that it was all a little joke on the public.

The bigger problem for those who want to see a crisis in Social Security’s future is this: if Social Security is just part of the federal budget, with no budget or trust fund of its own, then, well, it’s just part of the federal budget: there can’t be a Social Security crisis.

Re:Better sites (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#36702576)

Although I enjoy cranky anti-government fantasies too, it's better to stay closer to reality. The Republicans are beating this anti-Social Security line because they want to say,

*I* am not a Republican. I have been independent my whole life, and never declared a party affiliation. I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, Liberatarians - whoever made the most sense.

The Republicans are beating on the Social Security drum because it's going to fail. The numbers do not add up, with all the people that need to be paid and all the people that will be around to pay it.

More broadly, weâ(TM)re breaking a major promise if we now, after 20 years of high payroll taxes to pay for Social Securityâ(TM)s future, declare that it was all a little joke on the public.

Don't you realize? No-one under 30 expects to see anything from it. To them it's just another tax with no hope of return. Given that, make it official - declare we are paying in to help those in the system now, but it ends with them and we start doing something sane where we sock away money per person, for that person- with some extra taken to help the truly needy.

Is it really a promise broken if everyone knew you were lying to start with?

Re:Better sites (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 3 years ago | (#36703198)

Is it really a promise broken if everyone knew you were lying to start with?

Most people, at least those I have talked to, have very little understanding of the accounting fiction that is known as the Social Security trust fund.

They don't realize all those taxes are spent immediately, rather than being saved for the future.

Since the taxes are exchanged by securities that are both held by and issued by the same entity, I like to use this example: The Social Security trust fund amounts to taking a dollar from your right pocket and an IOU written to yourself from the left, exchanging pockets, then spending the dollar. You claim that the IOU amounts to savings, because it is owed to you, but omit the fact that it's also a debt because you are the one liable for payment of that IOU. So the books say you have a dollar, but when the time comes to pay, you have to come up with money from somewhere else in order to actually make good.

The US is living beyond its means. Eventually, something has to give. Politicians rarely get elected by telling the truth though, since the average voter is too stupid to be able to handle it readily. They just get mad and throw gasoline onto the fire that is current partisan politics.

Re:Grandma and the Internet (1)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | about 3 years ago | (#36702392)

You're right, baby boomers are way more tech savvy than grandma.

Re:Grandma and the Internet (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#36702592)

And that is unimportant as other ways will still be available. The fax did not replace letters. Some ways of communication will fade away. The telex is one of them.

I work at a company that has just recently opened up a website for the customers to use. Although we try to push them towards the website, we will not force them and in many occasions we even discourage people to use it. This mainly with the elderly who don't understand how to type in a URL. Some even do not HAVE a computer and we do not want to loose those ones and some just don't feel like it.

Re:Grandma and the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702844)

Of course in the future when those that are not grandmas now age to be grandmas they couldn't use this system either, right?

They can have a $1 for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701234)

I will gladly pay $1 in taxes each year to pay for them to print and mail a statement.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (4, Informative)

jc42 (318812) | about 3 years ago | (#36701306)

I will gladly pay $1 in taxes each year to pay for them to print and mail a statement.

I've seen the accounting for such things in a number of corporations, and none of them could send out statements at a cost of under $1, so I doubt that the SSA can achieve such a cheap mailing, either.

There are a lot more costs than the paper and postage. This is the reason for the inexorable move to electronic statements. It's far cheaper to move a flock of electrons or photons than it is to move the equivalent pieces of paper. Electrons and photons are much better behaved than pieces of paper, so it can mostly be handled by the computers and comm gear, without human hands getting involved. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to fully automate paper communications.

(Unless you've done it, of course, in which case you know most of the zillions of ways that pieces of paper -- and the moving parts that push them around -- can screw things up. ;-)

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (2)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 years ago | (#36701362)

I will gladly pay $1 in taxes each year to pay for them to print and mail a statement.

I've seen the accounting for such things in a number of corporations, and none of them could send out statements at a cost of under $1, so I doubt that the SSA can achieve such a cheap mailing, either.

One word. Franking. It helps when you're part of the entity that charges the postage...

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (1)

jc42 (318812) | about 3 years ago | (#36701650)

Sorry; franking doesn't quite cover it. That only means "free postage", which is, lessee now ... (It's been a while since I sent a letter ;-) ... that's $0.44, which doesn't even cover the suggested $1. And typically, the cost to print the doc and stuff it into an envelope (and address the envelope) is more in the $3-$10 range. So, yes, franking privileges helps, but it's only on the order of 1/10 the total per-envelope cost.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (5, Informative)

markdavis (642305) | about 3 years ago | (#36701848)

Sorry, but you are out of your mind if you think it costs $3 to $10 to produce and stuff and address that statement.

We do such mailings all the time for far, far less. And in THAT type of volume, with automation, the actual costs is well below $1.

Even our Xerox printer/copers at a measly 70ppm, ACTUAL COSTS, including the tabloid paper, would be about $0.03 per statement. Envelope and stuff for another $0.05. Address it for another $0.01 or so. I am guessing the actual costs of their statements, ready to mail, are in the $0.10 to $0.15 range.

There is NO WAY they are going to maintain a website design, and database, and hardware, and electricity, and ISP, AND SUPPORT THE MILLIONS OF LOGINS and HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CONFUSED elderly for less than their simple annual mailing. No way.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#36701890)

You seem to be forgetting that the government is the one doing it.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (0)

markdavis (642305) | about 3 years ago | (#36702448)

>"You seem to be forgetting that the government is the one doing it."

Of course, that is a good point.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 3 years ago | (#36702614)

They could however do both and tell people that they can choose. Sure the elderly NOW won;t know how to use it, but what about the people who are elderly in 10 years? in 20?
First make it opt-in and then when the usage is 50% make it opt-out. At 80% you could charge for people using paper.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 3 years ago | (#36701530)

anyone doubting this should just look at a somewhat aged copy machine. in order to grip paper the rollers need to be soft, but they wear out and start slipping, paper leaves little pits of paper dust which accumulates and further renders gripping surfaces sticky, sometimes moisture will make paper stick together, sometimes there is no moisture and the paper just sticks together anyways because fuck you, usually when there is a jam it is detected and the process stops, every once in a while the jam keeps piling up and jams in so much paper that the backup gets to a spot where a sensor detects it and many pages are ruined, because fuck you.

and that is assuming that you have no toner explosions from shitty HP toner carts making all your prints and copies from the brand new $7000 multifunction piece of shit (which manages to underperform all of the aging and decrepit equipment in the office in speed, reliability, serviceability and image quality) look like they are covered in snot or bile.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (1)

Zebai (979227) | about 3 years ago | (#36701808)

I could swear you've worked in my office

Every now and then i get a very nagging message to remove paper from the receptacle tray with threes NO GD paper in it and the printer will not print until the non existent paper is gone.

Re:They can have a $1 for this. (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 years ago | (#36701758)

The SSA has been making a large push to direct deposit. I am sure this is saving them far more than the statements that they have been mailing every few years.

Dire Omen? (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 3 years ago | (#36701280)

FTFA: "The SSA suspended mailings of the statement in March citing budgetary concerns"

When they can't even afford postage, how far off can the warnings of the SSA's eminent collapse be?

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 years ago | (#36701350)

In normal years, they could afford it, but the economy made it so they took in $40 billion less than they paid out last year. They expect a similar shortfall this year. This isn't bad, as the trust fund is coming REALLY close to $2 trillion, but they don't want to borrow more than they have to from interest or the general fund (I'm thinking borrow from the general fund is out right now). Basically, they're looking right down the barrel of a HUGE payout of trust fund as the baby boom retires in the next five to ten years, and don't want to take anything for granted.

Re:Dire Omen? (4, Informative)

ravenspear (756059) | about 3 years ago | (#36701370)

One problem here that not many people know about is that the "trust fund" isn't an actual account with actual money in it.

It's basically just a stack of IOUs from the Treasury dept stating that they will pay that amount when the SSA requests it, but if future government revenues or budgets are not conducive to that money being available from Treasury, it could be hard for them to get it.

Re:Dire Omen? (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#36701418)

One problem here that not many people know about is that the "trust fund" isn't an actual account with actual money in it.

Sure it is. You might as well argue that your bank account has no money in it because they loaned it out, or that any retirement fund with stocks, bonds, or T-bills in it doesn't have any money in the account.

All accounts run like that. "Your" money isn't there. It's in some IOU form. Unless you have your retirement account stashed under the bed, you do exactly what you condemn.

Re:Dire Omen? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701502)

The difference is that the social security trust fund *is* the federal government. The federal government lent all the money in the social security trust fund to itself, and then it spent the money. A bank would have lent the money to various third parties who would pay it back. The federal government has to pay the money back through tax revenue (or more borrowing). That's a pretty big difference. If a bank lent its deposits to its officers, and then the officers spent the money, all the bank's officers would be in jail right now. An IOU written to yourself is not an asset. The social security trust fund is insolvent. All the money being paid out has to come from taxes, borrowing, or printing money.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | about 3 years ago | (#36701592)

The difference is that the social security trust fund *is* the federal government. The federal government lent all the money in the social security trust fund to itself, and then it spent the money. A bank would have lent the money to various third parties who would pay it back. The federal government has to pay the money back through tax revenue (or more borrowing). That's a pretty big difference. If a bank lent its deposits to its officers, and then the officers spent the money, all the bank's officers would be in jail right now. An IOU written to yourself is not an asset. The social security trust fund is insolvent. All the money being paid out has to come from taxes, borrowing, or printing money.

The bolded was the point I was making.

If a bank issues a loan to a private party, that party has a legal obligation to repay the loan, so the bank knows exactly how much it can be expecting back. Sure the guy might not be able to pay, but in most cases he will. We can't accurate project what future government revenues or budgets will look like. So the gov issuing an IOU to itself is really just an assertion that they will pay back that dept based on faith in future economic growth leading to more revenue.

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 3 years ago | (#36702354)

We can't accurate project what future government revenues or budgets will look like.

However, if it gets to the point where the US government can't honor that debt it means the entire country is really, really screwed anyway. So much so that SS solvency will be one of more minor problems of the day.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#36703128)

An IOU written to yourself is not an asset.

Evidently you've never worked for a fortune 100 company. They do that all the time (business units owing to others). And they have to rectify those when they sell or reorg. Or all the Enron pensioners who had their retirement plans stuffed with Enron stock. It's stupid to have your retirement plan in the company you work for (the point of an IOU written to yourself), but it is still a valid IOU.

I understand your point, but I don't agree with your opinion. The only possibility of the US government defaulting on T-bills would be because of an economic collapse so large that SS being gone would be the least of our worries. And if the US government were in such bad shape that they decided to selectively fail to pay off their debts, no one else in the world would buy the securities, and the economy would fail. There is no scenario where the government could fail to pay back the IOU and still have a fully functional government.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701556)

Uh, huh. So when the bank issues itself a loan to pay its top officers bonuses while ceasing to actually issue mortgages and car notes, you won't have any problems with that arrangement?

Banks take deposits and issue loans to third parties for arms-length transaction. Government takes your money, issues loans to ITSELF, and spends the money on programs of its own choosing.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#36703146)

Uh, huh. So when the bank issues itself a loan to pay its top officers bonuses while ceasing to actually issue mortgages and car notes, you won't have any problems with that arrangement?

Aside from the lie by implying that the government is "ceasing" to distribute money as they have indicated they would, yes. Why? Because they do that all the time. And no one cares when the private sector does it, but goes apeshit when the government does. That indicates to me that you are either grossly ignorant or batshit insane.

Banks take deposits and issue loans to third parties for arms-length transaction. Government takes your money, issues loans to ITSELF, and spends the money on programs of its own choosing.

Yeah, that's how it works. It seems you are insanatarian. You aren't objecting to the government moving a debt on the books from one department to another, but objecting to taxes or something else. Moving the debt on the books is done every day in every company that does any size of business at all. That this is a large movement in a very scrutinized organization doesn't change the simple fact that this form of accounting is very common in the private sector. Ever code an expense to a line item in a budget? Then you've done what you are complaining about here. If you haven't, then you've never had a job with anyone but McDonalds - get out of the basement and let us know what the real world is like.

Re:Dire Omen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701692)

It's even better than a stack of IOU's. The Federal government creates money out of think air and spends it into circulation. The Federal Reserve Banking system is a carry over from the gold standard days. Google MMT (modern monetary theory) and Warren Mosler's writing on the subject.

http://moslereconomics.com/2009/12/10/7-deadly-innocent-frauds/

Dennis

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

homer_s (799572) | about 3 years ago | (#36701818)

By that logic I have a trillion dollars - I have IOUs from myself worth that much. I also have a trillion Zimbabwe dollars on my desk.

The IOUs have to be from some other credible counter-party to be taken seriously.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#36703160)

The IOUs have to be from some other credible counter-party to be taken seriously.

You are stupid. Millions (tens of, maybe hundreds of millions) of people have money in T-bills. They are credible, whether they are first-party or third-party securities. Just like getting a bank backing of that would be useless because it's more likely that any individual bank will fail than the US government will (and if the US government did fail, then it's possible that many banks will fail as well with the collapse of the US economy and all backing of banks).

The US government is too big to fail, and if it does fail, then SS failing as well will happen as well no matter who the IOUs are written by.

Re:Dire Omen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701826)

I seem to remember a few banks in years past that wound up going under when said "trust funds" were requested.

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701878)

No, it's not like that at all. The money invested in a bank or other fund has real assets behind them. The surplus social security taxes collected are used to purchase treasury bills. That money was not invested in assets, companies or real estate, it was spent in the general fund. The money is basically gone, predicated on the promise to repay someday because of the full faith and credit of the federal government. If you read the laws however, the government has no obligation to repay that money to you if they choose not too (read the statements they sent, they even say they can change the amount they pay you at any time, all the way to zero). Banks and other financial agents have the obligation to pay you, and if they don't can be litigated. Try suing the government for unpaid social security!

Social security is a tax not an investment in any real or legal sense. If you're fortunate, you might get some of that money back someday. No guarantee. Much like a Ponzi scheme, returns are paid with new funds. Backed by faith and a promise. And the returns are terrible, worse than you can get in the most conservative investment vehicle. The whole idea was a safety net, and that's gone out the window. Many people receive substantial checks each month they don't even need. The number of workers to beneficiaries was once 16 to 1. It's now almost 2 to 1. You've seen the future in Greece, Portugal, and others. That is what is going to happen when people who never planned for retirement get nothing. Good luck in 20-30 years.

Correct, banks do not have your money (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#36702244)

You might as well argue that your bank account has no money in it because they loaned it out ...

A person might make that argument and that person would be correct. That's why when there are runs on banks the banks fail. That's why we have FDIC insurance where the government guarantees your account, because the money is not in the bank.

Re:Correct, banks do not have your money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702818)

And who insures the Federal Government?

Re:Correct, banks do not have your money (1)

ravenspear (756059) | about 3 years ago | (#36702926)

It self insures.

Re:Correct, banks do not have your money (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 years ago | (#36703026)

it can print more money. but the value of that money is decided by everyone on the globe.

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

tiqui (1024021) | about 3 years ago | (#36703036)

No, it is NOT an account.

First, the courts have already ruled on this. According to the Supreme court, the federal government gets to decide each year whether it will pay-out to social security recipients and how much to pay. There is nothing other than public outrage that forces the Federal govt to pay you anything from social security when you retire (they ARE required to pay things like retirement packages of retired govt employees)

Second, if that was an actual account, then why do you not have a PIN number????? (Hint: it's not actually your money, and there is not any actual money there)

Third, IF it is an actual account and IF you own it, then why do your heirs not get to inherit it?

Re:Dire Omen? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#36703174)

It is an account, but it isn't your account. It's like you have a mutual fund that buys stick in Microsoft. You don't own any shares in Microsoft. You can't vote in the shareholder meetings. Any dividends paid will not be paid to you. So you wouldn't get a Microsoft PIN.

You are arguing that if you own a mutual fund that owns MS stock, that unless you have a PIN for MS, that your mutual fund doesn't own any MS stock. That's just plain wrong, and in no way indicates that you don't have a relationship with the mutual fund company, or that they don't own MS stock. Come on guys, this is pre-econ 101 stuff.

Re:Dire Omen? (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 3 years ago | (#36701524)

One problem here that not many people know about is that the "trust fund" isn't an actual account with actual money in it.

It's basically just a stack of IOUs from the Treasury dept stating that they will pay that amount when the SSA requests it

One problem here is that people posting things like the above don't know what an "actual account" is, since that's exactly what an actual account (e.g., at a bank) is.

You seem to have "account" confused with "safety deposit box".

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

zeroduck (691015) | about 3 years ago | (#36701710)

China has a lot of those too, they're called bonds. American citizens buy those too. So do American companies.

What would you like them to do with the money? Tuck it away under the mattress of the Treasury Secretary?

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#36701978)

At one time, the trust fund *did* have money in it (yes, the electronic information that we call money), but was looted and replaced with securities, which are NOT money. There is a huge dangerous difference.

Re:Dire Omen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702266)

"One problem here that not many people know about is that the "trust fund" isn't an actual account with actual money in it."


No, it's better: Treasury notes. Put a thousand dollars in one mason jar, & a thousand dollars worth of treasury notes into another jar. Come back a year later, & which one is worth more? The dollar has gone down in value, the note, up. It seems that SSA is even more solvent than most people think - the lack of uberwarehouses stacked with dollar bills notwithstanding.

Re:Dire Omen? (2)

garyebickford (222422) | about 3 years ago | (#36702298)

Hmm. Fortunately most of us boomers were too stupid to save any money, so they can't afford to retire for another 10 or 20 years. That should actually help out SS.

Sigh (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#36701352)

Maybe you should read one of those statements they mail, or just do some reading online. Social Security in its current state will never "collapse" because it is funded by taxes. It has taxes collected just for it, from every paycheck. As such, so long as there are people working in America, it has a revenue stream.

The problem is not a collapse, the problem is that they will not be able to pay out promised benefits. Currently the SSA takes in less money than they need to pay out for benefits. In the short term, that is ok, they have a large fund which is used to fund the difference. However the difference is quite large, and nothing is being done to fix the problem. That means at some point the fund will be depleted (when depends on a lot of factors, you can look up the various estimates). When that happens, they can't pay out the promised benefits, only a fraction of them, maybe 70% currently.

It is a big problem, particularly since many people depend on social security to not be homeless in old age. However it will not "collapse."

In terms of suspending mailings, well it probably saves more than you think. It isn't just postage, it is printing costs. No, it doesn't cost a lot to print a couple page flyer. Does cost a bit to print a hundred million of them though.

Given that they are spending out more than they take in, it makes sense to cut where it is feasible. This would be a potential area.

Re:Sigh (4, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#36701382)

That's not true, it would be true if politicians hadn't figured out that they could borrow from it so that they wouldn't have to raise taxes or cut spending during their terms, then skip off to retirement with their Federal pensions while everybody else gets benefits cut.

At this point the Feds owe quite a bit of money to Social Security, but with the GOP refusing to allow for tax hikes or to cut the large sources of spending, it's unlikely to get fixed before things collapse.

But, OTOH it's not likely that people will get nothing, they'll just git a fraction of what was promised.

A matter of OR (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 3 years ago | (#36702032)

with the GOP refusing to allow for tax hikes or to cut the large sources of spending

Excuse me, but the GOP are quite willing to hit huge sources of spending.

The Democrats want to drive down tax collection further by raising rates (since it happens every. single. time. it is tried you'd think they would change the tune), and they CERTAINLY to do not want to cut even the most minor spending.

Re:A matter of OR (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | about 3 years ago | (#36702322)

The Democrats want to drive down tax collection further by raising rates (since it happens every. single. time. it is tried you'd think they would change the tune),

Any proof to back up the claim that increased taxes on the rich* (lets set the bench mark at 250k/year) reduces overall tax collection?

Re:A matter of OR (2)

suppo (267896) | about 3 years ago | (#36702608)

Since you are too lazy to do a web search (Google: tax rate revenues), the seventh hit has an article on exactly this topic: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2003/08/the-historical-lessons-of-lower-tax-rates [heritage.org] Careful before you jump to polemics about it. President Kennedy is quoted: "the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now." Bottom line: Every time tax RATES were lowered in the 20th century, tax REVENUE increased.

Re:A matter of OR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702756)

Yeah, the tax rates under JFK were what now? Look, you can't cut tax rates to zero and get infinite revenues, it doesn't work like that.

It's actually something more of a bell curve. If the Heritage Foundation were honest, they'd admit that, and recognize that their incessant demands for reductions is counter-productive, because the reality is the country needs spending to keep running. But they can't ever ever admit it. So the country will rot so long as they get their tax cuts.

Re:A matter of OR (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 years ago | (#36702834)

Not specifically the rich, but raising tax rates overall. The proof is the Laffer curve [wikipedia.org] .

Re:A matter of OR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702726)

No, the GOP is not willing to hit huge sources of spending. That's why Defense spending is untouchable. And corporate subsidies. And many other huge blocks.

What they are willing to do is SCREW over the working public and lie to them about it. They're willing to cut the benefits people actually earn and deserve. But that's not a good thing. It'll cost everybody more, because people won't get the things they need to survive, and so they'll spend less. That'll have a net negative effect on the economy.

Also, no, you're not correct about raising rates inherently lowering overall collections. The US used to collect a good bit more taxes than it does now. Also, Democrats are also quite willing to cut spending. They even helped cut Boehner's pet engine project.

Re:Sigh (2)

bell.colin (1720616) | about 3 years ago | (#36702822)

The US Govt. which has never spent within it's means should not be trusted with my or anyone's retirement fund or to provide any service, They are liars and thieves.

If you are dumb enough to rely on this and they don't pay up you get exactly what you deserve, which is nothing after the thieves are done borrowing it for their own gain.

We have known for a long time this was headed for bankruptcy (it's a damn pyramid scheme no matter what they want to call it)

I don't pay into SS but pay into something else, no way I'm falling for the SS scam.

Re:Sigh (1)

vandelais (164490) | about 3 years ago | (#36701464)

Currently the SSA takes in less money than they need to pay out for benefits. In the short term, that is ok, they have a large fund which is used to fund the difference. However the difference is quite large, and nothing is being done to fix the problem. That means at some point the fund will be depleted (when depends on a lot of factors, you can look up the various estimates). When that happens, they can't pay out the promised benefits, only a fraction of them, maybe 70% currently.

Except no article on the subject goes past that point. It's just 70% and the story ends there. The mathematical unsustainability of the system in its current state means that the payments will start at 70% and decline year after year after year....
Promises were made, promises were kept, but when the trust fund runs out, hold onto your hats.

The system needs reform on the expense side of the equation.

Long term balance (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 3 years ago | (#36701618)

Except no article on the subject goes past that point. It's just 70% and the story ends there. The mathematical unsustainability of the system in its current state means that the payments will start at 70% and decline year after year after year....

Except that that's not true. Uh, no, the most recent trustees report shows, under the intermediate assumptions that the trust fund will be exhausted in 2036, allowing only 77% of authorized benefits to be paid at that time. That gradually worsens to 74% by 2085, which is the end of the projection period; the projection has it worsening at the end of that period, but at a slower rate as you get farther down the line.

The system needs reform on the expense side of the equation.

Actually, it needs reform on the revenue side; one of the reasons its out of balance in the long term is that social security taxes were set on wages only with the expectation that wages would, over the long-term, bear a stable relation to total income (or at least total income from labor); that assumption has not worked out, as wages represent a declining share of labor income, with a greater share made through fringe benefits which are not subject to Social Security taxes; simply rearranging Social Security taxes to reduce the rates but include fringe benefits, in a manner that was revenue neutral in the short term, would greatly improve long-term balance.

Re:Long term balance (1)

astar (203020) | about 3 years ago | (#36701768)

Consider:

I claim the following are the congress critters operating assumptions:

1) we want to put a lot of money into stuff that is *against* the general welfare
2) we do not want to put money into stuff that "improves* the general welfare

Now consider a possible proxy for general welfare:

increase the productive part of the economy by say 2% a year instead of negative percents

Oops, if done, no more worries about the trust fund running out of money anytime soon

On this site, we could probably come up today with 20 good ways to do 2% increases

Talk to the Chinese, today, and among the things they are actively doing there, hey, 20 things to do 2% increases

talk to DC types, the priorities are, well, we already covered that in general and we all kind of know anyway. Do we really need to be specific?

here is a url you might look at: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/insolvency [thefreedictionary.com]

just a definition of insolvency

my thought here is that lots of people are avoiding using accurate words, if the words invoke a real context. You might look at this bit of nominalism and see where it applies around you.

Re:Sigh (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 years ago | (#36701682)

The fact is that correcting the imbalance will not take a major change in the tax/benefit ratio. Simply removing the income cap on payroll taxes would be enough.

The system is actually quite sustainable. The deal right now is that there is an unusually large generation moving through the plan. Back when Reagan was President payroll taxes and retirement ages were increased in order to account for the post war cohort. Some adjustment is now needed again to fine tune things. Once the boomers start dying off in large numbers I would think we will see some payroll tax cuts.

A big issue that is screwing things up is that the SS Trust Fund holds something like 3 Trillion in T Bills and the process of cashing them in will increase Federal borrowing costs. Basically what happened is that the Republicans (Bush + Reagan) used the payroll tax revenues as a way of partly financing the tax cuts that they put in place for the wealthy. Now of course that doesn't work as SS revenues are less than expenditures.

In the end SS is fixable with some moderate tweaks.

Medicare though - that one is SERIOUSLY broken and I would not be surprised to see some horrific outcomes with that. The only real way to keep Medicare is socialize medical care in the US, and boy that is going to be a rocky road.

Ultimately though having an economy where 20% of GDP is spent on health care where everybody else spends 10% puts you in a big non-competitive hole that can't work long term.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702618)

The reason we have generational surges is because people are paying the previous generation of retirees rather than paying in for their own generation's future. Paying out earlier investors with money from new investors is pretty much the definition of a pyramid scheme. Because the promised rates of return are lower than Ponzi and company it has yet to collapse, but in the long term, it needs a sound investment income stream to be sustainable.

Re:Sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701916)

they have a large fund which is used to fund the difference

No they spent that. They have been doing that since the recession we had in the 70s. Its gone. In its place is HUGE stack of IOU's.

Honestly that I was getting one every year was semi odd. Every say 5 years would be more reasonable. It would cut the cost to 1/5th. For a good number of people it is far off enough that would be ok.

Also the system needs about 2-4 people paying in to pay for 1 that is retired. The average pay in the united states is 40k. Which comes out to about 400 paid in per month. Most people I know who retired are making 800-1200 per month.

It is currently 100% paid by people paying in. The cushion is gone unfortunately. Long since spent.

It has *all* the earmarks of a ponzi scheme. Pay in and make money as more people join.

Sigh Yourself, it can collapse (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#36702026)

if the social security system either starts paying out an amount insufficient for purchase of anything useful, or starts paying out the equivalent of hyperinflated Zimbabwe notes, unsuitable and insufficient for purchase of anything, it can be accurately said to have collapsed. You also assume unemployment can not rise so high that government revenue is essentially zero for any practical purpose. We, the USA, are headed to both those problems on an ever accelerating train.

Re:Sigh (1)

Hungus (585181) | about 3 years ago | (#36702112)

Actually you are wrong, Currently SSA takes in MORE money than they pay out. There is no "Fund" as Congress has been "Borrowing" it to fund other parts of the budget. The best way to maintain benefits after the switchover occurs (when more money is being paid out than put in) is to raise SSA taxes now and feather the retirement age again.

Social Security brought in an excess of 68.6 Billion dollars last year. (thats what remained after all payouts were made)

Don't believe me?

The data is here: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/assets.html [ssa.gov]

Re:Sigh (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 3 years ago | (#36702196)

Since I am in the know on this aspect of it, I can state with certainty that the printing cost is about $0.02 per statement while the postage is about $0.18 per statement. So by far postage out weighs the printing cost.

Re:Sigh (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#36702582)

The sad thing is there are about half-a-dozen ways to fix it, and none of them are particularly painful (slightly raise taxes, slightly raise maximum contribution, slightly raise the payout age, slightly decrease benefits) if done early enough. We've known about this for a decade now (at least) and no one has done anything, and the more time passes, the harder it will get. It's rather pathetic.

I was wondering where mine was (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701286)

Getting that reminder that if I'm ever fully disabled, I'll have to live on a few hundred bucks a month for the rest of my life is what gets me to donate to the legless bums on the side of the road (getting good at spotting the guys who are sitting on their legs and faking it) 'cause they sure as hell need it.

And the real reason it is in budgetary limbo... (1)

ravenspear (756059) | about 3 years ago | (#36701322)

Is because whatever web design company was offered the job of setting up the site and converting the data RIDICULOUSLY inflated their quote just because it was the gov and they knew how much they could suck out given the prior precedents of waste.

SSA and Web sites don't mix (4, Interesting)

Aquitaine (102097) | about 3 years ago | (#36701364)

In a former job around 6-7 years ago, I worked for a major university that received a lot of state and federal grants, many of which were from the SSA and which included provisions about operating web sites on behalf of the SSA. These were not complex web sites, but they were totally clueless (as was everyone from the SSA that I ever dealt with, though in fairness we only dealt with two or three specific branches). We would get phone calls at 6AM demanding that we remove the SSA logo from a web site that we had done on their behalf, and then a phone call four hours later demanding that we put it back.

Even by government standards, these people had terrible attitudes. Every meeting with them began and ended with the SSA having the attitude that they were performing the most vital government service in existence, and therefore they knew everything about how it should be done -- not necessarily a bad position, but by definition not a terribly logical one if you are hiring outside groups to do certain jobs for you.

The paper statements they send out are a hoot, too. They have a little insert that says something to the effect of 'I've heard that Social Security will be insolvent by the year 20xx (usually around 2030). Will I stop receiving payments?'

'No! Social security will continue to operate as normal. If Congress does not authorize additional funding, you can expect to receive seventy cents on the dollar.'

Their definition of 'insolvent' must be 'nobody receives anything,' but I can lose 30% of what I'm 'owed' without government assistance.

Re:SSA and Web sites don't mix (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 3 years ago | (#36702430)

'No! Social security will continue to operate as normal. If Congress does not authorize additional funding, you can expect to receive seventy cents on the dollar.'

So the post office and their printer didn't accept their 70% offer. They should just have mailed out 70% of the Statements (those are still good odds imo).

It's too bad they didn't seem to take into account operating expenses when they did this little back-of-the-enveloppe calculation. How can they pay out seventy cents on the dollars when the most visible part of their operation grinds to a halt at the first sign of lack of funds? Or is this a political tactic on their part, a way to rally the people to put pressure on politicians?

It's probably the latter I think.

Re:SSA and Web sites don't mix (1)

Kr3m3Puff (413047) | about 3 years ago | (#36702828)

I remember the first one I got of it... It politely informed me that I a) had fully qualified based on all my contributions over the years and b) the year I was set to be eligible to retire, they would run out of money, but Congress was working on a way to address this, so I shouldn't worry.

I don't think they even read their own forms. *sigh*

Who cares? (1)

PanchoVilla (663869) | about 3 years ago | (#36701374)

I don't plan to ever see any of that money anyways. It's probably best that I don't get reminded once a year how much money I have thrown down that rathole..... I do my retirement planning assuming 0 dollars from SS. Any money I do get will be spent on trips to vegas, "get of my lawn" signs, and rocks to throw at "those crazy neighbor kid's dog". Oh and to buy horrible gifts for the grandkids that they probably won't even like.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701392)

Mine is going to be taken away by the Dept of Education to pay for my student loan.

Since my birthday is in April, I got a statement.. (1)

WimBo (124634) | about 3 years ago | (#36701406)

I received my statement this year, and would not have known that they stopped sending them out if not for this story.

I've wondered a bit about the statements and if they imply a contract? What happens if SSA is tampered with and I show up with my statement demanding to be paid?

Re:Since my birthday is in April, I got a statemen (1)

Megane (129182) | about 3 years ago | (#36701586)

Don't worry, it's not worth the paper it's written on anyhow. Just another feelgood waste of tax money thanks to CONgress. If you're under 50 you can count on Socialist Security getting "restructured" long before you have a chance to collect on it, thanks to the Baby Boomer generation being paid from it instead of taxed into it.

Re:Since my birthday is in April, I got a statemen (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#36701858)

Per Helvering vs Davia [wikipedia.org] , Social Security is a tax and Congress can spent it any way they wish. Per Flemming vs Nestor [wikipedia.org] , you have no contractual or 5th amendment rights to receive Social Security payments.

"Budgetary concerns" my ass (5, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | about 3 years ago | (#36701532)

This is all about politics and scaring older voters.

nba jerseys store (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701548)

Which is the first retired nba basketball jerseys [wondernbajerseys.com] for American League ?Do you know ?It's reported that Lu Gairui,1939,retired four nba swingman jerseys [wondernbajerseys.com] .

The message the SS has is universally understood.. (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | about 3 years ago | (#36701750)

If you put money into the ponzi scheme, you my american (and foreign in many cases) are totally screwed. Thanks for playing, try again on the next shit this government sells the public.

More clueless posting with misinformation SS (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 3 years ago | (#36701776)

Social Security is NOT part of the budget problem and will be fine if those bastards don't touch it.

Simple fix - raise of remove the high income 'cap' as needed. That means that people who make more then $108,000 per year will be asked to continue to contribute the same rate as the rest of us. Booo - fraking - Hoo

Oh, and if you do not understand what is meant by 'cap' you need to educate yourself.

If someone tells you something else then they either misinformed or are indirectly trying to destroy one of the few truly important safety nets this country has left .. and we have enough scum like that already - don't be mistaken for one. Many take their children's future very seriously.

Those bastards have a lot of money. and as far as I am concerned each and every one of them is an example why it would be in the nations interest if their mothers had practised selective birth control. At this point I sure as hell wish Obama's mother had.

Re:More clueless posting with misinformation SS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36701832)

There's a contribution cap because there is a benefit cap. If SS is going to beconverted into a typical tax/spending measure, then it's perfectly reasonable to talk about dissolving it like any other tax/spending measure.

If SS is insurance, then premiums can't go sky high for some people with no corresponding increase in benefits.

Re:More clueless posting with misinformation SS (0)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 3 years ago | (#36701900)

"There's a contribution cap because there is a benefit cap. If SS is going to be converted into a typical tax/spending measure, then it's perfectly reasonable to talk about dissolving it like any other tax/spending measure.
If SS is insurance, then premiums can't go sky high for some people with no corresponding increase in benefits."

SO? Are you implying that it would be revenue neutral? It's not.
Time differences, investment growth, and youth statistics make it *not so*. And the pay-in verses pay-out to anyone in the system does not cancel. It is invested in government in Bonds which are sold world-wide, and generally the best investment possible.

And arguments about how this is somehow 'funny-money' might as well say about other bond investments or money in general.

You want to fix the budget problems - well, stay in the spending/taxing issues not related to SS, because it is independent. Want the short answer to the budget problems; Increased taxing of people making over $250,000 a year, cut our war department budget to at least 50% - and BS to the hair pulling FUD about not being able to defend this country on that, for god's sake - put back the estate tax... frankly, the biggest difference between those who do well and those who struggle is the wealth in the family the person is born in. I've heard some debate about this - and you would have to look *hard* to find these.

So, why do you thing you have been hearing so much FUD about the 'deficit' ? Who benefits the most .. corporations and wealthy. And who now has more 'speach' in politics?

Re:More clueless posting with misinformation SS (2)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#36701844)

It's awfully easy to say "boo freaking hoo" about someone else's money, isn't it? After all, if they have that income level, there's a good chance they may not need to rely on social security to retire (though I suppose that depends on what region of the country they live in). So forcing them to continue to chip into this scheme only serves to benefit everyone else. Hell, why not ask them to chip in at a *higher* rate than everyone else? Why not double? Why not triple? Why not just tell them that $50k is good enough and everything over that should be given to the old people down the street that never bothered to save a dime for retirement, because they believed social security was going to take care of them, because that's what "the government" told them?

Re:More clueless posting with misinformation SS (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | about 3 years ago | (#36701930)

So - you must be one of those flat tax people. fine.

The issue here is not about someone not being able to afford a new computer or not. We are talking about poor old freezing or not getting medications. And their young families who already struggling to make ends meet not letting family members DIE.

I got an idea for you. Why not go volunteer at your local food-bank. Think about parents not being able to feed children. Starving children (you numb SOB) think about what you write. Yea, lets live in a society where people kill each other to feed dependents. Good plan.

Like every other government "shutdown" (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#36701796)

This is like every other government "shutdown", shutting down the most noticeable parts of the government to get attention even if it makes no sense. For example, out of all the things to be shut down in a state/local government shutdown it generally won't be the things actually costing the most money, but highly visible things like state parks, or trash service all the while the things that caused the budget to be in a mess are still continuing.

Re:Like every other government "shutdown" (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#36701910)

This is a good thing. The people need an immediate reminder about why they like the government, to cut through all the demagogy. If the government shut down background services, it would fester unseen and unaddressed for months.

Re:Like every other government "shutdown" (1, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#36702052)

The federal government doesn't collect my trash. How about shutting down "background services" like wars and warmongering and world policing, or lining defense contractors pockets?

Oh no! (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#36701836)

This means I might not get a breakdown of all the money I'm never going to receive, when I retire! I mean, assuming they haven't moved the retirement age to 105 years old by then!

Holy false economy! (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | about 3 years ago | (#36702096)

What microscopic proportion of the Social Security budget is mailing a few statements?

The program is bankrupting the nation. Frankly, mailing statements will save money compared to launching some giant IT project with Oracle, SAIC, Lockheed and the other cast of Federal contracting characters. How many 80 year olds are going to be able to deal with an electronic statement anyway? And how will you identity-proof them?

Re:Holy false economy! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 years ago | (#36702598)

Social security is not bankrupting the nation, overall it's a fairly good program. To get a feel for it, check out this chart [wikipedia.org] . Notice which program is pushing up expenses? Social security stays roughly the same, whereas medicaid is really growing in expenses.

To keep Social Security solvent for the next 70 years, it would only take a small adjustment (decreasing benefits slightly or increasing payments slightly). Medicaid is a different story.

Re:Holy false economy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702788)

WTH are you talking about !? The Program is NOT bankrupting the nation. As Hungus just posted;
_
" Currently SSA takes in MORE money than they pay out. There is no "Fund" as Congress has been "Borrowing" it to fund other parts of the budget. The best way to maintain benefits after the switchover occurs (when more money is being paid out than put in) is to raise SSA taxes now and feather the retirement age again.

Social Security brought in an excess of 68.6 Billion dollars last year. (thats what remained after all payouts were made)

Don't believe me?

The data is here: http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/assets.html [ssa.gov] "
  _
A Huge part of the problem is that our government takes all that money ( our retirement money ) and spends it, on stuff like tax breaks so the rich don't have to pay the same percentage of taxes as the rest of us, constant wars ( You DO realize that we have been in a "war on drugs" in places like Columbia for decades, using private armies, do you not ? ), and various other stupid, expensive, and detrimental expenses, of which there are many. Then the Feds say that they " don't have the money " to pay it back. They would like to default on the money that they borrowed from Your retirement account. Or at least not pay you as much as they promised they would pay you when you retire.

The program is bankrupting our nation ? Read the posts here from people that actually get their facts right. And Stop watching nothing but Fox news.

Worst part... (1)

jimmydigital (267697) | about 3 years ago | (#36702248)

The worst part about this... is that the post office was counting on the revenue from those mailings to stay solvent. Doh! No mail for you!

The web is the wrong solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702560)

This is a place where the web is the wrong solution. The SSA needs to provide people with infrequent information for decades. They need to do so securely. Consider the impossibilities:

- Account security. This will almost certainly involve a password. The password needs to be secure for *decades*, because it's certain that people are not going to change it regularly. The password also needs to be memorable, even though you may only use it once a year. Those last two sentences are a contradiction. Many people will use their last four SSN digits, or their names, or perhaps their birthdays - there is nothing else they will be confident of remembering.

- Finances. Changing from postal statements to electronic statements sounds easy enough, but things like this are a nearly impossible challenge for governments. Note that the SSA has been trying to make this transition for at least fourteen years! I used to work in "software acquisition" for a federal agency, and I can imagine the costs involved here. In the end, they will spend a nine-digit sum on this system, not even counting the salaries of the government employees managing the project. You can buy a lot of bulk-rate postage for the same price. ROI?

- Platform stability. This kind of effort can only make sense if they will be able to stay with the new platform for many years. In addition, they need to transition their user base - who will only access the platform once a year. The Internet is great and wonderful, but the first browser was only built 20 years ago. The Internet is likely to be utterly different in another 20 years. The necessary - decades long - stability is simply not there.

- Nontechnical users. One poster was ridiculed for pointing out that his grandmother couldn't use a web-site, but his point is correct: there are millions of people in the USA who cannot use a website. There are tens of millions more who *shouldn't* use the web for anything important (thinking of password security, identity theft, etc.). This is a real problem, and there is no solution other than *not* using a web-site. However, from TFA, running an opt-in or hybrid system is not an option.

If the government were efficient at this kind of thing, it would make sense. A couple years effort, a few million dollars - the way any company would handle such a project - and it would make sense. That's not how it works in government, though. According to TFA, the government has been working on this idea since (before) 1997, and they still aren't there, or even particularly close.

My personal expectation, from having been involved in government software acquisition: some contractor is making lots of money, even though they are already massively over budget. The actual software is probably being written by some poor, clueless subcontractor that doesn't understand why the requirements keep changing just as they're almost finished. After a few more tens of millions of dollars have gone down this black hole, we will see the postal statement return in a couple of years.

Abercrombie UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36702780)

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It's a joke...think about it! (1)

tiqui (1024021) | about 3 years ago | (#36703082)

First, how could you login to examine your "account"? You have no PIN number...heck the social security people are so screwed-up they cannot tell the difference between you and an illegal immigrant with a different name and living in a different city who is using your number!!!!! On those occasions where an illegal uses somebody's number with a legitimate employer, and the employer makes payments to the govt using that "account number", the govt does not see the double payments under two names from multiple locations as a sign that anything is wrong!!!!

Second, Nobody used to get such "statements". The Clinton administration started sending them out in 2000 after some public polling indicated that young people had more belief in UFOs than in the solvency of social security; The federal govt panicked and generated these "statements" to try to convince younger workers that they had "accounts" just like they got statements from the bank on their bank accounts. All Ponzi schemes fall apart when the younger generation of "investors" start to suspect that all their money is being handed out to the earlier investors and not invested in some manner so that it will be there when they try to get it back. The Politicians cannot survive the wrath of a bunch of elderly voters whose checks are cut-off because the young workers lose faith and stop paying in. The time for young workers to really start to panic will be if the debt limit is increased (signalling that the feds have every intent of going bankrupt by continuing to borrow and spend until the world's investors stop lending) If we keep at this until the world's investors stop investing in our debt, then there will be no funds available to pay young workers when they retire and no way to try to push it off onto an even younger generation.

nike air max shoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36703136)

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Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36703170)

You are nuts.

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