The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers customer service online, by phone, and in field offices across the country. The most appropriate or effective method of contact depends on the type of help you need and, for now, how and when local offices emerge from COVID-19 protocols that have closed them to visits without meeting since March 2020.
Until they reopen, Social Security offices provide in-person service by appointment only and only for certain situations involving urgent benefit issues or Social Security numbers. The SSA said local offices will reopen to walk-in traffic and expand appointment opportunities in April, but it has not set an exact date.
In the meantime, you can do most routine transactions, including claims and appeals, on the Social Security website or by calling SSA National Customer Service (800-772-1213).
Get help online: My social security
You can apply for retirement and spousal benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Medicare online through the SSA website (but not for survivor benefits). You can also start an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but in some circumstances you will need to complete it over the phone or in person.
Opening a My Social Security online account gives you 24/7 access to your Social Security statement, which shows your income history and estimated future benefit payments. You can also track the status of a pending claim or appeal and request a replacement Social Security card.
My Social Security services extend once you start collecting benefits. Among other things, you can use your account to obtain 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 modify the bank details for the direct deposit of your monthly payments.
The AARP Social Security Resource Center has a tutorial on creating a My Social Security account. SSAs Online Services page contains details of information and support that you can access anywhere using a computer or mobile device. Numerous Social security forms are available online for download and printing.
Get help by phone
If you are unable to use the online services or want to speak directly to a Social Security representative, call the SSA National Customer Service number at 800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can also apply for any type of benefit over the phone, including survivor benefits and SSI.
The national hotline is staffed with live agents from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time weekdays, excluding federal holidays. Outside these hours, you may be able to find what you are looking for using SSA’s automated telephone service.
Field offices are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Enter your postal code in the SSA field office locator to find the telephone number of your nearest establishment.
Wait times for calls to the national 800 number fluctuated widely during the pandemic, increasing sharply in the first weeks of the outbreak as field offices were closed to visitors, then decreasing as the SSA staffed more of call center staff with tools to manage calls remotely. Wait times have risen again in recent months as the agency implements a phone system upgrade, with waits averaging 32 minutes in February.
According to the SSA, wait times are generally shorter if you call between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., later in the week (Wednesday through Friday), or near the end of the month. If your issue cannot be resolved on the initial call, the agency says they will schedule a phone interview or an in-office appointment.
Get 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 any of SSA’s more than 1,200 field offices once they are fully reopened. to the public.
At this time, office visits are available by appointment for what the SSA calls limited and critical situations – for example, if you are without food or shelter and urgently need to request or reinstate benefits, or if you need to update information related to your Social Security number to get income, health care, or government services. Call your local office to find out if you qualify for an appointment.
Although walk-in service is expected to resume in April, Social Security recommends making an appointment. If you’re visiting a walk-in field office, the SSA says to expect long lines, especially at typically busy times, such as Mondays, the day after a federal holiday, and during the first week. of the month.