How to Handle Social Security Customer Service Problems

If you’re having issues with your Social Security payments, you might need to contact the Social Security Administration for help. You may be able to troubleshoot some problems online, but other issues might require a phone call or in-person visit to a Social Security office.

To get your Social Security questions answered, you can:

— Research online to find answers.

— Use the Social Security website.

— Call the Social Security Administration.

— Make an appointment.

— Consider an in-person meeting.

Follow these steps to get your Social Security problems addressed in a timely fashion.

Research Social Security Questions Online

The government website for Social Security is ssa.gov. “Prior to reaching out to the Social Security Administration, do as much research as you can on your own,” says Chuck Czajka, a certified Social Security claiming strategist and founder of Macro Money Concepts in Stuart, Florida. The Social Security website has information and calculators you can use, and AARP also has an online resource center that focuses on Social Security.

[READ: How Much You Will Get From Social Security.]

Social Security Issues You Can Solve Online

Over the past several years many Social Security services have shifted online. You can now accomplish a variety of routine Social Security tasks online, including:

— Create a free my Social Security account.

Apply for benefits.

— Check the status of your application.

— Estimate your retirement benefits.

— Review your Social Security statement and earnings history.

— Change your address.

— Set up or change how your payments are made.

— Print proof of your benefits.

— Print your 1099 tax form.

— Request a replacement Social Security card.

These services include instructions to guide you through the steps involved. “The general recommendation is to use the online portal for standard actions such as switching your direct deposit,” says Sam Zimmerman, CEO of Sagewell Financial in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

[Read: Social Security Changes Coming in 2022.]

How to Speak to a Live Person at Social Security

For problems you’re not able to address online, the Social Security customer service number is 1-800-772-1213. Customer service representatives are available between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are also automated telephone services available 24 hours a day. For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, the number is 1-800-325-0778.

Avoid Calling Social Security During Busy Times

The amount of time you will wait on the phone to speak to a live representative can vary, based on when you call and what issue you need resolved. In 2021, the average wait time was just over 13 minutes, according to data from the Social Security Administration. The months in 2021 with the shortest wait time were April, with a little more than a five minute average hold, and August, with an average wait time of a little more than six minutes. Recent months have had longer average wait times. In January, February and March 2022, callers held for almost 40 minutes.

Certain hours and days have more callers than others. According to the Social Security Administration, if you call later in the day, the wait time tends to be shorter. Additionally, calling between Wednesday and Friday often means less time on hold.

Schedule a Social Security Appointment

If you are unable to find the information you need online and cannot get an immediate answer when speaking to a Social Security representative on the phone, ask to make an appointment. You might opt for a meeting by phone with a Social Security representative. You could also ask to have an in-person meeting at your local Social Security office.

[See: 10 Ways to Increase Your Social Security Payments.]

Know What to Expect at the Social Security Office

For some cases, it may be helpful to see a Social Security representative in person and explain your situation. If you think your Social Security benefits were miscalculated and that you should be receiving more, you can appeal the decision. “A person can go to a local office and they will be directed to file any appeals in writing, but the clerk can provide some guidance,” says Chris Orestis, president of Retirement Genius in Cumberland County, Maine.

Scheduling an appointment in advance can result in faster service than walking in without an appointment. Social Security offices tend to be busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week and at the beginning of the month, so you may be able to have a shorter wait if you visit an office at an off-peak time, according to a statement from Kilolo Kijakazi, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration. You may need to comply with safety measures during your office visit including masking, physical distancing and a self-health check for COVID-19 symptoms.

More from U.S. News

10 Strategies to Maximize Social Security

What Is the Maximum Possible Social Security Benefit?

The Social Security Retirement Age Increases to 67 in 2022

How to Handle Social Security Customer Service Problems originally appeared on usnews.com

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