‘it’s Taken Too Long’
Field offices are slated to reopen to the public in early April.
In the meantime, the Social Security Administration is emphasizing that people who need help start with the agency’s website.
“As we expand in-person availability, we strongly encourage the public to continue to go online at ssa.gov, call us for help if they cannot complete their business online, and schedule appointments in advance,” a spokesperson said.
But for people like Erica Ellis, 43, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who has been trying to help her sister claim disability benefits, there are no immediate answers.
Her sister, Dorothy Pritchett, 48, a schoolteacher from Newport News, Virginia, has been unable to work since she had a stroke in August. She applied for disability benefits shortly thereafter. While the Social Security Administration website shows that the benefits have been approved, her sister has yet to receive a payment.
“Here we are going into March, and she still doesn’t have her money,” Ellis said. “It’s taken too long.”
The experience, along with Ellis’ own stalled pursuit for her own disability benefits, has made her question the sincerity of the program.
“I really think that they want you to be dead,” Ellis said. “That way, they don’t have to give it at all.”
How To Spot A Government Imposter Scam
Scammers are pretending to be government employees. They may threaten you and may demand immediate payment to avoid arrest or other legal action. These criminals continue to evolve and find new ways to steal your money and personal information. Do not fall for it! We want you to know how you and your loved ones can avoid becoming victims!
Watch our public service announcement below
Information About Family Members
- Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits and
- Proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages, if applicable.
If you don’t have all the documents you need, don’t delay filing for benefits. We will help you get the information you need.
Know What To Look For
- The caller or sender says there is a problem your Social Security number or account
- Any call, text, or email asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
- Scammers pretend they are from Social Security or another government agency. Caller ID, texts, or documents sent by email may look official, but they are not.
Protect yourself, friends, and family!
- If you receive a questionable call, hang up and report it at oig.ssa.gov.
- Do not return unknown calls, emails, or texts.
- Ask someone you trust for advice before making any large purchase or financial decision.
- Do not be embarrassed to report if you shared personal information or suffered a financial loss.
- Learn more at oig.ssa.gov/scam.
Speak To A Live Worker And Request Your Appointment
The last step is to speak to a live worker and request a Social Security visit. You will need to provide the location and time of day that you would like for your Social Security office visit.
The worker will also provide you with a list of documents that you will need for your Social Security office visit. For instance, if you need to change your name, you will need to provide proof of your name change such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree. The service that you need will determine the additional documents that you will need to provide.
Again the phone worker can provide you with a list of items that you will need to bring to your Social Security office visit.
Recommended Reading: Can You Receive Social Security Disability And Retirement
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.
A Message From Regional Commissioner Linda Kerr
Welcome to the Social Security Administration’s Kansas City Region. You can use the Contact Us link to access several options for contacting SSA, including online access at socialsecurity.gov, and our toll-free numbers, 1-800-772-1213 and TTY number 1-800-325-0778. Through our online portal you can learn more about us, the services we provide, the rich diversity of our employees and our Agency mission.
Our Region consists of four states in Americas Heartland: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. We have 68 field offices, a Program Service Center, a Teleservice Center, a Workload Support Unit, and 8 Disability Determination Service offices that deliver Social Security Services to meet the changing needs of our customersyou!
We have a proud history of protecting the integrity of our programs and providing superior customer service. We are honored to serve you and are committed to providing the highest standard of innovative, considerate, and thoughtful customer service.
You May Like: How Often Do You Get Paid For Disability
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.
Email Our Support Team
Social Security cannot answer questions about economic impact payments under the recently enacted law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Treasury, not Social Security, will be making direct payments to eligible people. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Many of our services are now available online, like applying for Social Security benefits, requesting a replacement Social Security card, getting your Social Security Statement, and benefit verification letter.
You can also look for answers to your questions on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
We realize that each persons situation is unique. While we are unable to answer questions in this forum that require access to your personal information, such as benefits you may be entitled to, we care. Please toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available between 8a.m. and 7p.m., Monday through Friday. For the location and other information about your local Social Security office, use our locator.
If you cannot find your answer online and do not have a question about your personal situation, complete the form below to send us an email. Please do not include Social Security numbers in your message.
We are experiencing high volumes of email and may not be able to respond to your inquiry promptly. We appreciate your patience.
Also Check: How Does Va Calculate Disability Compensation
If You Need An Interpreter
We provide free interpreter services to help you conduct your Social Security business. These interpreter services are available whether you talk to us by phone or in the Social Security office.
Call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. If you need service in Spanish, press 7 and wait for a Spanish-speaking representative to help you. For all other languages, stay on the line and remain silent during our English voice automation prompts until a representative answers. The representative will contact an interpreter to help with your call. If your business cannot be completed by phone, we will make an appointment for you at a local Social Security office and arrange for an interpreter to be there at the time of your visit.
How To Protect Yourself From Phone Scams
If someone calls and claims to be with a government agency, no matter how official they seem, no matter how scary the situation sounds hang up. The longer you stay on the line, the more likely you are to become a victim.
Government agencies, including Social Security, IRS, and Medicare, dont first make contact over the phone, said Amy Nofziger, director of the AARP Fraud Watch Network. If theres a problem with your account, they will contact you by U.S. mail. Likewise, they will never call and threaten you with a lawsuit or arrest, if you dont make an immediate payment.
Another red flag: Government agencies will never instruct you to make an immediate payment via wire transfer or gift card.
Gift cards are now the favorite way these scammers are asking to be paid, said John Breyault, who runs the National Consumers Leagues Fraud.org website. Government agencies dont accept payment via iTunes or Google Play or any other gift card. Thats the sure sign of a scam.
Dont trust a caller just because they know some of your personal information, Breyault cautioned in a recent fraud alert. Sadly, due to numerous data breaches, we have received reports that fraudsters are providing victims with their SSN to build trust, he writes.
Recommended Reading: Is Down Syndrome An Intellectual Disability
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.
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.
You May Like: How To Fill Out Work History Report For Disability
Contact Social Security By Mail
If you still need additional help, you may write to the Office of Public Inquiries and Communications Support. Please include your Social Security number or claim number whenever you write to us.
Social Security Administration Office of Public Inquiries and Communications Support 1100 West High Rise 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
do not send
If you are unsure where to send these materials, please call our toll-free number or contact your local Social Security office.
How To Make An Office Appointment With Social Security
In this community resources guide, you will learn how to schedule an appointment with Social Security Administration.
Making a Social Security appointment can be a huge time saver. Calling SSA to make an appointment gives them the opportunity to get ready for your visit and allows you to learn about any documents that may be needed.
If you are uncomfortable applying for benefits online or using the Social Security website, continue reading to see how you can schedule a visit at a Social Security office near you.
Measures You Can Take To Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft happens when a person illegally uses your personal information to commit fraud. Someone illegally using your SSN and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems. But there are several things you should do to prevent identity theft:
- Do not routinely carry your SSN.
- Never say your SSN aloud in public.
- Beware of phishing scams trying to trick you into revealing personal information.
- Create a personal account to help you keep track of your records and identify any suspicious activity.
- Consider adding these blocks to your account with us:
- The eServices block This prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information on the internet. Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block.
- The Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention block This prevents anyone, including you, from enrolling in direct deposit or changing your address or direct deposit information through or a financial institution . Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block. You will need to do the same to make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.
Service Around The World
Welcome to SSAs Office of Earnings & International Operations home page. The purpose of this site is to assist Social Security customers who are outside the U.S. or planning to leave the U.S.
OEIO is responsible for administering the Social Security program outside the U.S. and for the implementationof the benefit provisions of international agreements. Since SSA has no offices outside the U.S., OEIO is assisted by the Department of State’s embassies and consulates throughout the world.
Don’t Miss: How To Talk To Someone With Ptsd
Social Security Number Suspended: How To Avoid
Besides this type of fraud, beware of many other Social Security scams out there, such as the Social Security Benefits Status, Social Security Administration Visit, and the Social Security Payments Delayed.
Watch the video below to see the Top 4 Social Security scams:
SSA does not call people just like that. The administration operates out of its principal office and via snail mail. If you receive a call like this, report it using the link below.
Here are some other tips directly from the SSA:
Imposters Are Switching To Social Security Scams
Scammers are always looking for something new and fresh. The FTCs complaint database clearly shows them moving on from impersonating the IRS to pretending to be with Social Security or Medicare.
From January to May, there were 65,000 complaints about Social Security Administration imposter scams and 20,000 involving Health and Human Services/Medicare. IRS scams had dropped to 4,500.
Susan, who lives in Loris, South Carolina, lost her life savings, $14,000, to a Social Security scam just a few weeks ago. Still embarrassed that she fell for the scam, Susan asked that we not use her last name.
The caller said Susans name and Social Security number had been found during a drug raid in Texas.
He said I was going to be charged with drug trafficking and money laundering and because of forfeiture laws, the DEA could seize my money, so I was freaking out, Susan told NBC News BETTER.
She could help her safeguard her money, the fraudster said, if she withdrew all her savings and sent it to the agency for safekeeping, until the criminal investigation was over. Susan was in such a panic that she followed his instructions.
The imposter stayed on the phone with her for more than three hours as she went to the bank and then prepared the shipment, constantly reminding her not to talk to anyone about what she was doing.
I just cant believe I fell for this, Susan told me. Im having a hard time dealing with it. I was hoping to retire this year, but now I have nothing.