It happened to Paul Waldron. He needed social security assistance for his wife, who emigrated from Russia. He shared part of his call log to Social Security from day one. It shows six canceled calls in 50 minutes.
Brean: “So it’s just calling and calling and waiting for someone to answer.”
Waldron: “A call was on hold for 68 minutes, transferred to a line that rang and hung up.”
“There is no appropriate way to provide the public and the community with the service they need in these circumstances,” Shawn Halloran said.
Halloran is president of Local 3342, the union that represents Social Security staff in most of Upstate New York.
He said opening offices on Thursday will not solve what he calls the service crisis.
“Unfortunately, it is likely to create further backlogs, hour-long wait times,” he said. “Chaos, basically.”
Brean: “So what’s the solution for you?”
Halloran: “Well, it’s simple. The agency needs to staff offices properly.”
The union said in 2001 there were 57 full-time employees in the Downtown Rochester office. Today there are 38.
I sent an email to Social Security for its employment numbers. The agency did not respond.
But in a press release on Monday, Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said, Customers entering without appointments may experience delays and longer waiting times at our offices. Please note that our offices tend to be the busiest early in the morning, early in the week and in the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times. “
Brean: “Why is it that people for the last two years have been calling Social Security and they can not get anyone to pick up the phone?”
Halloran: “I hate to sound like a broken record, but there’s no one to pick up the phone.”
In the Agency’s statement, Acting Commissioner Kijakazi said, “When we switch to a new modern telephone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be inadvertently interrupted from their calls. We sincerely apologize for this disruption.”
Social Security said it brought retirees back to deal with some of the workload.
Here are tips when trying to call Social Security:
- Do it before kl. 10.00 or after kl. 16.00
- Call later in the week or later in the month.
- Offices and operators tend to be less busy.
Paul Waldron eventually came through to someone and made a deal. He says it took about a week.