TELEPHONE PROCEDURES FOR CALLING SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
What if I want to call the SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION with a question?
If we represent you or you are thinking about getting representation contact us not Social Security -we have the answers. If you feel you must deal directly with the Social Security Administration (SSA ), first talk to an SSA representative at SSA 's toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213. Because so many people have had problems dealing with SSA at the 800 number, we have devised a set of rules to use this number effectively. Here they are:
Rule 1: Call the 800 number only during the second half of the month and then only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays before 10:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m.
We know this sounds silly, but this recommendation, which comes out of an official SSA brochure, will help you avoid the times when the 800 number is most heavily used. Whether you adopt this rule depends on two things:
- Whether you really have to call SSA at some other time; and
- How much you hate busy signals and recordings.
The teleservice center is busiest during the first half of the month when people are calling about missing checks, on Mondays and Tuesdays, apparently because people use the weekend to dream up questions for SSA, and between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily.
You can call and talk to a real person from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you call before 8:00 a.m. or after 4:15 p.m. your call will be routed to a teleservice center in another time zone. If you call between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. or anytime on weekends or federal holidays, you will get to talk to a machine and leave a recorded message. Do not assume you will be contacted.
Rule 2: Do not rely on the teleservice center for answers to important questions.
Answers from the teleservice centers that affect entitlement to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits are not to be trusted. The SSI program, a federal welfare program for disabled and elderly people, is the most complicated program operated by SSA . One study done shortly after the beginning of the toll-free telephone system found wrong answers to nearly one quarter of the SSI questions. About ten percent of the answers to questions about Social Security retirement, survivors and disability benefits were wrong. So it makes good sense not to rely on the answers of a teleservice representative to questions that might affect SSI or Social Security disability benefits. You can usually, but not always, rely on answers given you by a claims representative at a local Social Security office. If you are not put in touch with a claims representative, call back to the 800 number to see if you get the same answer twice.
Rule 3: Remember, with SSA, the right hand does not always know what the left hand is doing.
The people at the local Social Security office don't necessarily know what the people at the teleservice center told you. If you have questions about both Social Security disability and SSI, the people at the local office who deal with one program don't always know the answers about the other program. The office in Baltimore doesn't necessarily know what is going on at the Social Security office in Wisconsin and vice versa. A little skepticism about things you are told is healthy, even when you are told these things by someone from the local office.
Rule 4: If you're applying for disability benefits and you really cannot work, don't let SSA discourage you.
Many people with valid disability claims give up after they receive a denial letter or after they talk with an SSA representative when trying to apply. This is unfortunate because many of these people would be found disabled if they pursued their claims. You shouldn't necessarily believe them when they tell you you're not disabled. They are wrong in many cases.
Adams Law Group has talked to many people that the local office told them to not even apply. These very individuals were awarded disability after we helped them apply and had a hearing. The local office is never the judge. APPLY!
Rule 5: If you have a claim pending, and are not yet represented, start a collection of "secret" telephone numbers of claims representatives at the local Social Security office.
All of the Social Security offices have unlisted telephone numbers. You cannot get these numbers from the phone company and you may not be able to get them from the teleservice center. Only the 800-number is listed in the telephone directory.
Once you get past the teleservice center, and actually talk to a claims representative at a local Social Security office, always ask for a telephone number. Save the number while your claim is pending so that you can contact the claims representative if necessary. If you lose it, you'll have trouble getting the number again. But be prepared for this: Once you have treasured a secret number for months, SSA will change the number. It does this just to prevent you from being able to call with questions!
Rule 6: Keep notes of conversations and copies of everything you send to SSA.
Write notes of your questions and SSA's answers. Be sure to write down names and locations of everyone you talk to at SSA and the date of each contact. And always save a copy of everything that you mail to SSA. If you complete forms at the Social Security office, ask to be provided with copies for your records. If you are told something that affects your eligibility for benefits, ask for it in writing.
Rule 7: Follow-up.
Following up is the best thing you can do. If an SSA representative promises to get back to you within three days and does not call, phone the SSA representative again on the fourth day. Always be polite.
Rule 8: When there is a problem, go to the Social Security office.
You can make an appointment or not, as you choose. If you make an appointment, you probably won't have to wait as long. Sometimes, it is best to make an appointment and insist on meeting face-to-face with the person at the local office with whom you have been dealing over the telephone. Whatever you do, take along all your papers.
Rule 9: Don't be afraid to ask for a supervisor if you cannot work out a problem at the local office.
If you cannot work out a problem in a meeting with a claims representative, ask to meet with a supervisor. Don't be afraid of hurting anyone's feelings or that you should not take up the supervisor's time. Often supervisors are in the best position to solve problems at the local office.
Rule 10: As a last resort, call your Congressman.
If nothing else works, one of the best resources for straightening out SSA's bureaucratic foul-ups is your Congressman's office. All Congressional members have at least one employee who specializes in dealing with Social Security questions. They are best at straightening out true bureaucratic problems such as long delays, lost files, and inability to get a straight answer to a question. But it won't help to call your Congressman simply because you've been denied disability benefits. Denying disability benefits is, after all, normal SSA behavior. A Congressional office is most helpful in dealing with abnormal SSA behavior.
Rule 11: Try to keep your sense of humor.
Dealing with SSA can be very frustrating. Try not to let it get you down.
Rule 12: Hire an attorney.
Adams Law Group will help you move through the bureaucratic nightmare of Social Security.