Social Security Claims: More Retirees Would Apply Online if Answers to Questions Were Readily Available

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The Social Security Administration’s online tools could help meet the growing demand for SSA services, but a new study suggests that only about 35% claim benefits completely online.

The Center of Retirement Research at Boston College conducted a study and found that the agency is receiving 53% of applications online, although a slightly higher share (60%) applied online during the pandemic. Jean-Pierre Aubry, the author of the report and the organization’s associate director of state and local research, noted that higher usage of online tools would not only prove to be more convenient for retirees, but it would save the government on costs of office locations and staffing, reported Financial Planning. 

“We also discovered that there are some situations that are going to require in-person,” Aubry said in an interview, Financial Planning reported. “You want people to claim in the way that they can, in the way that they want to, in the way that’s most accessible to them.”

The report calls for the SSA to set up online methods of solving basic inquiries and eliminate obstacles to online use. The report also advocates for increasing retirees’ awareness of the agency’s website. According to Aubry’s report, making these changes could increase the number of retirees claiming their benefits online by 15% to 20%. Incoming younger retirees could boost this by another 3%.

Aubry also added that while the government plans to raise awareness of the agency’s online tools, financial advisors also play a role. 

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Financial advisors are one part of that communication,” Aubry said, as reported by Financial Planning. “If financial advisors inform their clients of these opportunities, that also helps nudge that percentage upwards.”

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