McCaskill threatens "ruckus" over Social Security website inaccuracies


WASHINGTON, DC Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is promising to “raise a ruckus” about what she says is false information in a Social Security Administration website.

McCaskill expressed disappointment and dismay with the Social Security Administration after a report illustrated that the agency is not providing prospective retirees the information they need to make an informed decision about what age to claim Social Security benefits.

The hearing Tuesday of the bipartisan Senate Aging Committee, led by McCaskill and Republican Susan Collins of Maine, came after they requested that the Government Accountability Office study ways in which the Social Security Administration can improve and clarify the information it provides to eligible individuals to ensure that they have a complete understanding of the factors that will affect their retirement benefits.

The report discovered that seniors were getting poor guidance from Social Security Administration field offices about claiming their Social Security benefits. Though the Government Accountability Office had planned to send in undercover “secret shoppers” to get an inside look at the information seniors were getting, auditors canceled that portion of the examination after observing the scope of problems during their official visits. The report detailed that agency employees were often encouraging retirees to engage in strategies that caused individuals to file earlier for their benefits—which reduces their lifetime benefits and is often not in an individual’s financial interest.

A variety of bipartisan commissions have in recent years implored the agency to do more to educate the public about the benefits of waiting to claim Social Security and the downsides of claiming too early.

McCaskill noted to a top Social Security Administration official that even its website suggested that it “doesn’t make any difference” when retirees claim. McCaskill pointed out the statement is flatly contradicted by many researchers and financial planners.

“So we have right here on the source for someone who is retiring a sentence on your website that is flatly false,” McCaskill said. “For years bipartisan groups have been asking you to provide more information. Why can’t you do that? I swear, I am going to raise a ruckus about this until this website gets fixed. It is outrageous that is says that on this website—cause it’s simply not true. And hundreds and thousands of dollars that seniors deserve are going unclaimed.”

McCaskill asked the agency to initiate fixing the website within the next 30 days.