Getting Help By Phone
If you are unable to use online services or want to speak directly to a Social Security representative, call the SSAs national customer service number at 800-772-1213 or call your local field office. You can apply for any type of benefit by phone, including survivor benefits and SSI.
The national phone line is staffed by live agents from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time on weekdays except for federal holidays. Outside those hours, you may be able to find what youre looking for using the SSAs automated phone service.
Field offices are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Enter your zip code into the SSAs field office locator to find the phone number for your nearest facility.
Wait times on calls to the national 800 number have fluctuated widely during the pandemic, rising sharply in the early weeks of the outbreak as field offices closed to visitors, then declining as the SSA outfitted more call center staff with tools to handle calls remotely. Hold times have spiked again in recent months as the agency implements an upgrade to the phone system, with waits averaging 32 minutes in February.
The SSA says customers may also experience busy signals or unintentional disconnects as it works through the technical issues and recommends calling when they system is typically less busy:
- Between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
- Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Later in the week .
- Toward the end of the month.
Contacting Social Security By Phone
The website is a great place to start, but sometimes the information provided may not seem to address your situation or answer your particular question. So your next step might be to call. Since Social Security doesnt publish the phone numbers of most local offices, you likely have to call the main number at 1-800-772-1213. Even if you have the number of your local office, you’ll probably want to start with the SSAs automated system.
If you call, you can perform many services through the automated system, including requesting a benefit verification letter and/or statement of your benefits, inquiring about the status of a claim, applying for a replacement card, finding the address of your local office, and conducting some business related to Medicare.
If the automated system isnt enough, you can speak to a representative between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Social Security Administration provides interpreters free of charge. You can call 800-772-1213 to speak with an interpreter who speaks Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese. You can also schedule in-person appointments, during which time the Social Security Administration office will arrange for an interpreter.
What To Know About Hearings
If you are thinking about appealing a decision, or you have an appeal pending, we want you to know you have options that could help you have your hearing sooner.
- We resumed offering some in-person hearings and we continue to offer hearings by online video and by phone. Online video hearings and telephone hearings are convenient, safe, and secure. .
- We continue to increase the number of in-person hearings. As our capacity grows, we will move to a more normal scheduling process.
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Information Technology Systems Expert Panel
The Social Security Advisory Board has appointed an independent, expert panel to review Social Securitys efforts to modernize its information technology , which is essential to delivering effective service to the public. The Information Technology Systems Expert Panel will utilize their expertise and experience to examine progress and key initiatives of the Social Security Administrations IT Modernization Plan, including how systems processes are developed, modified and used by SSA.
How Do I Talk To A Real Person At The Social Security Office
Do you want to talk to a real person at a Social Security office? As you probably know, you can go online on the ssa.gov website to take care of many to-dos, like changing your address information or applying for Medicare.
But if youâd rather talk to a Social Security representative, you can either reach someone on the phone, or talk face-to-face at a Social Security office:
- Go to your local Social Security office in person â follow the link and enter your zip code to find your local field office.
- TTY 1-800-325-0778 8:00 a.m. â 7:00 p.m. local time in all U.S. time zones.
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The Best Ways To Contact The Social Security Administration
Did you know that more than 2,700 rules govern your Social Security benefits? Luckily, a significant number of those rules probably dont apply to youbut how do you have a chance of interpreting all these rules on your own when there are thousands of explanations in the agencys Program Operations Manual System ?
The easy answer is to contact the Social Security Administration . Yes, we know what sort of negative connotations the idea of communicating with a government agency conjures up. Thankfully, there are three ways to contact Social Security to get info and solve issuesonline, by phone, and in person.
Contacting Social Security Online
Unlike some other government websites , the Social Security website is easy to use for those who speak English and Spanish, and it offers nearly all of the services you need. The website does also offer some information in other languages online, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese.
You can view a list of the online services by visiting the online services section of the website. Youll notice that you can apply for benefits, get a copy of your statement, appeal a decision by Social Security officials, and get estimates of your future benefits and Medicare services, among other things.
Just like the SSAs offices, the website has certain hours of operation during which you can conduct business. But take heart: If not 24/7, the hours are pretty extensive unless youre trying to apply for benefits between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, before 5:00 a.m. or after 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, or before 8:00 a.m. or after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, the operational hours probably wont affect you.
Most experts say to avoid visiting a Social Security officeanother reason why it’s a good idea to start with the online services section of the SSA’s website.
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Using Our Automated Telephone Services
Services for all beneficiaries
- Request a benefit verification letter
- Ask for a form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, to request a replacement tax summary
Services for Medicare beneficiaries only
- Request a replacement Medicare Card
- Request a form SSA-1020 to apply for help with Medicare prescription drug costs
Services for people who have applied for benefits
- Ask to receive a claim status
Services everyone can use
- Find the address of your local Social Security office
- Request a form SS-5,Application for a Social Security Card, to:
- apply for an original Social Security card or a replacement card if yours was lost or stolen,
- request a name change on your card, or
- update or correct other information on your Social Security number record.
You can listen to informational messages on the following subjects:
- Payment delivery dates
- Best times to call our 800 number
- Social Security Internet address and services
- Supplemental Security Income
- Non-receipt of your Social Security benefit
- Representative payee
Services for Social Security Benefits Only
- Change address and/or phone number
Getting Help In Person
You can apply for any type of benefit, get forms and information, and get help with Social Security issues in person at one of the more than 1,200 SSA field offices.
Social Security offices shut down in March 2020 and for most of the pandemic provided in-person service by appointment only and just for select situations involving urgent benefit issues or Social Security numbers.
While walk-in service resumed April 7, Social Security recommends scheduling your visit in advance. If you visit a field office without an appointment, the SSA says to expect long lines, especially at typically busy times, like Mondays, the day after a federal holiday and during the first week of the month.
A small number of field offices may continue to provide appointment-only service due to construction, inability to accommodate people waiting outside the office or other reasons. Check Social Security’s office closings and emergencies page for an up-to-date list.
Keep in mind
- You must complete a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms before entering a Social Security office and wear a mask during your visit.
- You may be asked to wait outside due to limited office space, so plan for the weather.
- If you need help with your visit because of a language barrier, disability or other issue, you may bring one adult for assistance. Otherwise, the SSA asks that you come alone .
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Getting Help Online: My Social Security
You can apply for retirement and spousal benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare online through the SSA website . You can also begin an application for Supplementary Security Income , but in some circumstances you will have to finish it by phone or in person.
Opening an online My Social Security account gives you 24/7 access to your Social Security statement, which shows your earnings history and estimated future benefit payments. You can also track the status of an application for benefits or pending appeal and request a replacement Social Security card.
My Social Security services expand once you start collecting benefits. Among other things, you can use your account to get copies or request replacements of key documents, including tax forms and official verification of your benefit status report a change of address to the SSA and change bank details for direct deposit of your monthly payments.
The AARP Social Security Resource Center has a tutorial on creating a My Social Security account. The SSAs Online Services page has details on information and assistance you can access anywhere using a computer or mobile device. Many Social Security forms are available online to download and print.
What You Should Know Before You Visit
If you visit an office, please keep these very important points in mind:
- You must complete a to see if it is safe for you to enter an office.
- Everyone must wear a mask. We will provide a mask if you do not have one.
- Hand sanitizer is available.
- You may need to wait outside because space in our offices may be limited. Please plan for the weather.
- If you do not have an appointment, you should expect long lines, especially during the busiest times in our offices: Mondays, the morning after a Federal holiday, and the first week of the month.
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Contacting Social Security In Person
When Social Security offices are fully reopened, if you cant resolve your problem or find the information you need on the website or over the phone, you can go to one of the field offices . In some casesif you need to request a Social Security card or update certain kinds of personal informationyou may have to visit an office.
But be forewarned: It probably wont be fun. You can schedule an appointment, though it could take weeks or more than a month to get one. Just heading to the office is an option, but youll probably wait more than a couple of hours to be seen. Some offices report lines out the door.
Staffing is an issue. Due to budget cuts to the SSA, there are fewer workers for an increasing number of applicants. And dont expect them to take an in-depth look at your situation. SSA employees don’t have the training or expertise to help you maximize your benefits the way a financial planner can. If you don’t have a financial planner or other professional who can help you make the right claiming choices, there are Social Security calculators that can help. The SSA also offers a number of online tools.
Some Social Security experts advise visiting multiple field offices in order to ensure that youre getting the most out of your benefits. One worker may misinterpret the rules and deny you benefits or other privileges for which youre eligible, so seeking multiple benefit estimates can help you find the best dealkind of like shopping for a new car.
Old Age Survivors And Disability
SSA administers the retirement, survivors, and disabled social insurance programs, which can provide monthly benefits to aged or disabled workers, their spouses and children, and to the survivors of insured workers. In 2010, more than 54 million Americans received approximately $712 billion in Social Security benefits. The programs are primarily financed by taxes which employers, employees, and the self-insured pay annually. These revenues are placed into a special trust fund. These programs are collectively known as Retirement, Survivors, Disability Insurance .
SSA administers its disability program partly through its Office of Disability Adjudication and Review , which has regional offices and hearing offices across the United States. ODAR publishes a manual, called HALLEX, which contains instructions for its employees regarding how to implement its guiding principles and procedures.
The RSDI program is the primary benefits program administered by the U.S. federal government, and for some beneficiaries is the vital source of income. Increasing access to this benefit program for low-income or homeless individuals is one of SSA’s goals. SSA is a member of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and works with other municipal, county, state, local and federal partners to increase access and approval for SSI/SSDI benefits who are eligible.
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How To Get Help
- The best way for people with access to the internet to get help from Social Security is online at ssa.gov.
- If you cannot use our website, call our or your local Social Security office for help. For quicker access to a representative at our National 800 Number, try calling early in the day or later in the afternoon . We are also less busy later in the week and later in the month.
- If we are unable to help when you call our 800 number or local office, we will schedule an appointment for you by phone or in-person.
- We may need to schedule you for an appointment at a later date or call you back to provide the service you are requesting.
- The number of people a local office can help in person will depend on local health conditions and other factors.
What Is Ssab
The Social Security Advisory Board is a bipartisan, independent federal government agency established in 1994 to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters of policy and administration of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and the Supplemental Security Income programs. The Board has seven members, appointed by the President, Senate and House of Representatives.
Information Technology Systems Expert Panel
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