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Social Security changes its mind

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Friday, July 18, 2014
Posted: 11 am ET

Social Security is backpedaling on its decision to require most people to download their own Social Security verification letters, required for things like mortgage approvals and applications for government assistance.

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© FRED PROUSER/Reuters/Corbis

The agency had announced that beginning Aug. 1, those in need of these letters would have to sign up for a personal My Social Security account and have access to a computer and a printer, things that many people living in retirement don't have.

A recent report by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, critical of Social Security's decisions to close 64 field offices and 533 mobile offices, points out that in 2013, 5 million people visited Social Security offices to get verification letters to corroborate such things as their income or retirement status. While public access to computers is available in many community libraries, some libraries and Microsoft itself warn against entering sensitive information into a publicly available computer.

In reversing the decision to stop sending verification letters by postal mail, Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said in a statement: "We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all."

Response from those most concerned about the issue was positive. "I'm glad the Social Security Administration has listened to our seniors' concerns," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate aging committee, told the Associated Press. "As the agency pushes more people online to conduct their business, we need to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are not being left high and dry."

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January 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

I would not feel comfortable sharing information over a computer because there are simply too many ways that such information can be hacked over any one person's computer.
We are seeing this happen every day now as major corporate computers are hacked into such as the one that occurred with Sony.
Who would even suggest such a thing?
I am one of those tech savy people at 72.
If I do not feel comfortable using a computer over the internet for such things, why would anyone feel comfortable doing it?
I am currently competent on Macs, PCs, Linux, and over 10 word processing, spreadsheets, and even the older Bulletin Board Programs prior to the internet.
I still type at over 70 words a minute.
I advise people to put nothing on a computer that you would not put on a public bulletin board in a local store. That certainly does not mean putting a Social Security Number anywhere accessible by the internet.