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Tips for Cutting Through the Social Security Administration Bureaucracy

Social Security TipsIn recent years, many local Social Security Administration offices across the nation have been closed or had their hours reduced hours even as the number of Social Security beneficiaries has increased.

The results of these cost cutting measures have been increased wait times, crowded lobbies and limited appointments for those in need of help. From July 2011 to November 2013, the average wait time at field offices across the U.S. more than doubled, from 14.4 minutes to 30.5 minutes.

These cutbacks make it all the more important to utilize SSA services in the most efficient manner possible. The Houston Social Security attorneys at The Law Offices Of M. Stanley Whitehead recommend these steps from a recent USA Today article to help.

Bypass the Bureaucracy

The vast majority of issues related to SSA transaction to not actually require a trip to the local office but can be handled with phone or internet access. By visiting SSA.gov or calling the SSA National 800-number at 800-772-1213, you can:

  • Find out if you qualify for benefits
  • Apply for benefits
  • Sign up for direct deposit
  • Replace a Medicare card
  • Change your address
  • Estimate future payments
  • Get your Social Security statement
  • File an appeal if you are denied SSDI benefits
  • Get a benefit verification letter

While many tasks can be accomplished online, not all can. Social Security Income applications must be done at a local office. Survivor benefits also can’t be done online.

Be Prepared

One of the most time consuming tasks is the initial application for SSA benefits. To speed the process, make sure you have all documentation gathered and organized.

This will include but isn’t limited to: proof of citizenship; military papers (if applicable); estimated earnings (if you are under full retirement age); medical documentation (if you are applying for SSDI benefits); divorce decree (if applying for divorced spouse benefits); and death certificate (if applying for survivor benefits).

Call Ahead

If a trip to the local SSA office is necessary, calling ahead to schedule an appointment is the best way to reduce your wait time.

Experts recommend calling 800-772-1213 during staffed business days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Avoid calling during the busiest times, which include the first week of the month and any given day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Calling earlier in the day or later in the day is best, but no wait time is never a guarantee.

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