Social Security Gets Ahead of the Curve

The New York Times reports that the Social Security Administration, suffering from budget cuts, is closing field offices. A plan prepared by the National Academy of Public Administration suggests it’s all good: By the year 2025, everybody can just do everything online.

As much as we’d like to share their optimism, we’re a little surprised that they apparently missed last April’s PewResearch Internet Project Report on Older Adults and Technology Use.

The crucial distinction Pew made, echoing our own feelings, is that there are two different groups of “elderly” to consider. Those who are young(ish), well-educated and affluent, and those who are much older, less educated, and sadly much poorer.

The drop-offs are critical:

74% of those who are 65-69 use the Internet, but only 37% who are 80 years or older.

87% of college graduates over 65 use the Internet, but only 40% with a high school education or less.

90% over 65 with a household income of $75,000+, but only 39% with an income of 30,000 or less.

While the age usage will inevitably shift upwards, as far as income and education, the people who will need Social Security services the most are not online. It’s hard to imagine that will change much in sixteen years.

13-internet-usage-for-older-adultsClick on the image to enlarge for a detailed breakdown.