Frustrated with Social Security Customer Service? These important tips from AARP can help
Frustrated with Social Security Customer Service?  These important tips from AARP can help

Frustrated with Social Security Customer Service? These important tips from AARP can help


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Let’s be honest here: Many Americans were not thrilled about it Social Security The Administration’s (SSA) customer service options, even before COVID-19 created all kinds of headaches. But with rising waiting times and thousands of baby boomers retiring every day as part of Great Resignationthe problem only gets worse.

See: 5 Things Most Americans Do Not Know About Social Security
Find: 15 worst states to live by just a social security check

The good news is that there are steps you can take to improve your chances of getting your questions answered – and problems resolved – even when the SSA is trying to recover from the pandemic.

The agency was forced to temporarily close its 1,200 field offices in the wake of COVID-19, AARP reported. These offices may reopen in the spring, SSA said in a January press release. One result of the closures was that more people were forced to call SSA instead of visiting them in person, leading to longer waits and increased frustration.

SSA has also been hit by budget cuts. As AARP noted, since 2010, SSA’s operating budget – set annually by Congress – has fallen by 13% and its staff by 12%. Meanwhile, the number of social security recipients has increased by 22% over the same period, according to the Center for Budget and Political Priorities.

Learn: Social Security: Survey shows that setting up a MySSA account before retirement is the key to success
Explore: 7 Things Every Woman Should Know About Social Security

So what can you do if you are frustrated with SSA customer service? AARP offers these tips:

  1. Call during peak hours. The rush hour for SSA’s national toll-free number is the first week of the month, and when payments are made, typically on Wednesdays. You are better off avoiding these times if you want to call.
  2. Go online whenever possible. SSA has tried to make its website (ssa.gov) more comprehensive and user-friendly during the pandemic, which means you can do more things online now than you could in the past. Before calling the agency, first research your questions and issues on the site to see if you can find answers there.
  3. Use other resources. A good place to start is the AARPs Resource center for social security, which contains a comprehensive mix of calculators, tools and articles to help you navigate through various social security and retirement issues. The site also lets you ask questions to experts. You should also search the web for other non-profit organizations and investment companies that offer useful information for free.
  4. Hire an expert. If you have the budget, hiring a finance / retirement employee is one way to avoid frustrating calls or inquiries to SSA. This can be especially helpful when deciding when and how to apply for a pension. As AARP Note that not thinking through the details can cost you thousands of dollars in lost benefits. SSA can help you process your claims, but it is not there to advise on when and how to file it.

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About the author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who has previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a BA in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting won awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A North Carolina native who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” became number two in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.


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