Don't be surprised to find a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau in your mailbox sometime over the next week: Invitations for the 2020 Census start going out today. The results will be used to determine congressional representation, inform hundreds of billions in federal funding every year, and provide data that will impact our communities for the next decade. A complete and accurate count of older adults is vital to ensuring that programs like Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, Older American Adult Title grants, Supportive Housing for the Elderly and many other programs are fairly funded.
Using information from the United States Census Bureau's Census 2020 website, we've outlined how to access the census, what to expect, and the importance of being counted.
Who Fills It Out
The 2020 Census counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Participating in the census is required by law. One person should respond for each home. That person must be at least 15 years old. They should live in the home or place of residence themselves and know general information about each person living there. (For more information, visit https://2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html.)
Important Dates to Know
- March 12-20, 2020: Each home across the country will receive an invitation to complete the 2020 Census.
- April 1, 2020: Census Day is observed nationwide. When you respond to the census, you will answer a simple questionnaire about yourself and everyone who is or will be living with you on April 1, 2020.
For a full list of important dates, visit https://2020census.gov/en/important-dates.html.
How to Respond
For the first time, you can fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. You can learn more about these different methods at https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html.
Other Important Information
How To Verify That Someone Is a Census Worker
Census takers will visit some homes in April to conduct quality check interviews or deliver paper questionnaires, and then in mid-May to help collect responses. If someone visits your home to collect information for the 2020 Census, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. Census workers may also carry Census Bureau bags and other equipment with the Census Bureau logo.
For more information about census workers, visit https://2020census.gov/en/census-takers.html.
Avoiding Fraud and Scams
It's important that you know the Census Bureau will never ask you for:
- Your Social Security number.
- Money or donations.
- Anything on behalf of a political party.
- Your bank or credit card account numbers.
If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it's a scam, and you should not cooperate. If you have questions about something you've heard about the census, visit this page to get the most accurate information: https://2020census.gov/en/avoiding-fraud.html.