Social Security customer service promises improvement

Camp is president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), an association of more than 3,000 lawyers and disability advocates who specialize in social security cases. He argues that some ongoing COVID-19 protocols and practices, including social distancing, working remotely and encouraging people to schedule appointments rather than show up at offices, hinder access to certain people who need it most.

Although it recommends appointments, the SSA says the vast majority of offices “have resumed in-person service for walk-ins”. Camp says that in practice, many offices “do not book appointments other than to book appointments,” which creates a barrier for applicants with severe disabilities.

“Because it’s a later date, it still causes problems for the more limited applicants.” A homeless person suffering from schizophrenia needs a reception structure,” he says. “We had local SSA offices available to help people for generations leading up to COVID, and we are struggling with the SSA not going back to what worked in the past.”

Telephone, online access encouraged

Since the reopening of field offices, SSA public communications and social media have encouraged people to call the agency’s national customer service number, 800-772-1213, or use the My Social online platform. Security whenever possible.

Many routine SSA services can be accessed online or by phone, including applying for several types of benefits, getting monthly payment estimates, applying for a Medicare or Social Security replacement card, and getting a benefit verification letter.

However, the national phone line has been plagued with service issues while the SSA implements a system-wide upgrade. A Sept. 6 post on the agency’s social media accounts noted that callers might experience “busy signals, dropped calls, and long wait times.” We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience as we work to fully restore phone service.

In July, the most recent month for which data is available, callers to the national number waited around 32 minutes on average to speak to an agent, up from 9 minutes a year earlier. The agency’s goal is to reduce response times to 12 minutes by September 30, 2023, according to an SSA report.

Angela Digeronimo, Social Security claims specialist, handles calls to her local office in Woodbridge, New Jersey, working remotely both in that role and as head of the American Federation union local. Government Employees representing SSA Field Office and Teleservices workers. She says working from home offers “a better way to provide service to the public than overcrowded waiting rooms and long wait times”.

“Working from home helps our employees find a work-life balance,” says Digeronimo. “The agency is not competitive in offering work-life balance. People want telecommuting. The first thing candidates ask is if the position is telecommuting eligible.

Camp says remote work is effective for some Social Security positions, such as administrative law judges who hear appeals in disability benefits cases, but it’s not a silver bullet for what ails client service.

“To claim that we can replace this level of in-person operation with remote work is to ignore what we are seeing in terms of the facts and the number of people served,” he says. “There’s no explanation other than it’s hard to get into an office, and there aren’t enough people when they get there.”

While accessing services by phone or online can save many people a trip to a field office, says Doggett, it may not be the best approach for recipients and applicants who are older or in poor physical or mental health.

“I know many older people aren’t as adept at using these services,” he says. “I agree that we need more employees in offices to take care of these issues. Virtual employees are simply not an adequate solution to this problem.

“While we understand your encouragement to use SSA’s online or telephone options,” LeaMond wrote in its letter to the agency, “we note that there are significant challenges with this strategy to reduce service issues. in field offices. Some services, such as applying for survivor benefits or SSI, cannot be completed online, she noted, and “even among those who prefer online services, many who apply for survivor benefits online social security eventually turn to an in-person or phone consultation for help.”

6 Social Security Tasks You Can’t Do Online

You can handle many Social Security matters entirely online, from registering a change of address to applying for retirement benefits. But there are still several services, some quite common, that require direct interaction with a live representative. Here are six things you can only do by calling the Social Security Administration (SSA) or visiting a local office.

Applying for survivor benefits: There is no online mechanism to apply for benefits on the income register of a deceased spouse, ex-spouse or relative. Call the SSA National Customer Service Line (800-772-1213) or contact your local office to file a complaint.

Declare a death: You must notify the SSA as soon as possible when a person who was receiving benefits dies. Often a funeral home will take care of this, but if you declare a death yourself, you will have to do it over the phone or at a Social Security office.

Request a death benefit: Spouses and children who are eligible for survivor benefits on a deceased loved one’s case may also be able to collect a one-time $255 death benefit from Social Security.

Apply for Supplemental Security Income (in most cases): You can start the SSI application process online, but except in very specific circumstances, you (or someone you designate to represent you) will need to meet with an SSA representative in person or by phone to complete it.

Become a representative beneficiary: Representative beneficiaries administer benefits for millions of Social Security beneficiaries who cannot do so themselves because of their age (eg, a young child) or disability. You must be approved by the SSA to fill this position, and the application process usually requires a face-to-face interview.

Apply for a new social security number: You usually cannot change your SSN, but Social Security will consider assigning a new number if you are at risk of domestic violence or suffer serious financial harm due to identity theft. You can only apply in person at an SSA office.

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