Getting Through to SSA Customer Service About Your SSDI Application Questions

Social Security Administration Tips

Struggling to Get the SSA to Answer Your Questions and Process Your SSDI Application?

When you’ve been off work due to injury, illness, or a debilitating medical condition, customer service frustrations only add to your stress levels. This is particularly true when you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). With increasingly long wait times, it’s helpful to know how you may be able to get better customer service from the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

If you are tired of being put on hold or receiving conflicting information from staff, fret not. Read below as Social Security disability lawyer Patrick Hartwig of Keefe Disability Law provides insight into how to get your questions answered and requests resolved more quickly. 

Increasing Wait Times With the Social Security Administration

Your feelings that it takes longer to get through to the Social Security Administration (SSA) these days are completely justified. Wait times on the SSA’s toll-free line have become progressively longer in recent years. The average wait time to be connected with an SSA representative in 2011 was three minutes. This increased to 14 minutes in 2021 and 33 minutes in 2022. Nearly half of all callers had to wait on hold for more than 30 minutes in January 2022. About 15 percent of calls get a busy signal. 

Wait times for disability decisions have also increased from four months in early 2020 to seven months in late 2022. Waiting for a disability appeal is even more dire, extending to more than 15 months last year. These growing backlogs can be impacted by government shutdowns, but a general lack of resources and funding is more likely to blame. 

According to a report by the AARP, Social Security acknowledges a “temporary degradation” of services. Staff attrition is at historically high levels, and overall staff counts are shrinking. The SSA has about 10 percent fewer full-time employees than it did a decade ago. Case backlogs continue to soar as new staff are hired and trained. About a third of employees are expected to retire in the next few years. 

Why You May Need SSA Customer Service 

There are many reasons why you may need customer service from Social Security. Some of these may be more general questions about eligibility for disability benefits, or you may need to interact with SSA about specific aspects of your disability claim.

For example, you may want to update your SSDI application with detailed notes from your doctor. If something critical about your diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment has changed, it’s important to let the SSA know of these changes. This way, they can better process and review your case accordingly. Other reasons may be more clerical, such as updating your mailing address or direct deposit information. 

To reach the Social Security Administration, call their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.

Tips for Getting the SSDI Customer Service You Need

You may be wondering why your application for SSDI benefits is taking so long, or perhaps you have another question about Social Security. Of course, you want sound, friendly, and helpful customer service. Keep these helpful tips in mind to help you reduce unwanted wait times and get the qualified answers you need. 

Have Your Vital Information Ready for Your Question

Before you pick up the phone, be sure you have all the information the SSA may request during your call. You may need to inform the SSA of major life changes that may impact your SSDI benefits. Examples include if your spouse passes away or if you start working again. Have the relevant documents on hand. Write down any questions you may have ahead of time.  

When you get through to a representative on the toll-free number, they may ask you to sign into the Social Security website. It’s a good idea to be in front of a computer when you call. This way, you can log into your account and they can walk you through any steps you may need to take. 

Call During Non-Peak Hours

The SSA phone line can be especially busy on some days and less busy during other times. Generally, the national toll-free number handles a large volume of calls during the first week of each month. Many people may have questions about their benefits. The line is also especially busy on Wednesdays. That’s when the SSA usually issues payments. 

If your matter is especially urgent, it would be best to avoid these peak periods. Instead, call later in the week and later in the month if you can. The toll-free number is open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm local time daily. Call earlier in the day for shorter waits. The wait time in the evening, after 5:00 pm, can be exceptionally long. 

Make an Appointment at a Field Office

You may prefer to speak with an SSA representative in person. They may be able to help you complete paperwork or answer your questions. Field offices have re-opened, but you can expect to wait about two months or more for an appointment. To schedule an appointment, call the national toll-free line at 1-800-772-1213.

While you previously could call your local field office directly, this is no longer an option. The phone representative will direct you to an assigned field office in your area. When you arrive at the Social Security office, you will be asked to scan a QR code to check in to your appointment. Expect to wait up to an hour before you get to sit down with someone. 

Use Online Resources and Tools

One of the best ways to avoid long wait times is to take matters into your own hands. The official website has many self-serve resources and tools. You can check your eligibility for benefits, get a benefits estimate, apply for benefits, and more. The website also allows you to update direct deposit information or request to withhold taxes. 

As the SSA undergoes a five-step evaluation process for SSDI applications, it’s helpful that you can check your application status online, too. The website also lets you file for appeal and check on its status as well. 

Research Your Own Answers

The SSA website offers a lot of resources, but it may not discuss everything you want to know about disability benefits. You can conduct some of your own online research to get these answers. Just be sure to rely on reputable sources that you can trust. Here at Keefe Disability Law, we answer many frequently asked questions about Social Security disability. 

For example, you can learn about how age affects SSDI eligibility and approval. Older applicants are more likely to be approved for benefits, even if they have the same symptoms as younger applicants. We also answer questions about many specific conditions and disabilities that may be relevant to you. 

Check Your SSDI Application for Completeness

Reducing the amount of back and forth you have with Social Security can speed up the approval process and improve your customer service experience. The backlog of applications means that approvals and appeals can take several months. If you are missing a crucial document, this could cause serious delays in receiving your benefit payments.

The SSA often denies benefits due to a lack of medical evidence. Before submitting your SSDI application, be sure your claim is fully supported by comprehensive medical documentation. This may include doctor’s notes and lab results, for instance. Completing a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment is prudent as well. 

Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney

Navigating the nuances of Social Security can be complicated. The process can involve a lot of documents, forms, and confusing terminology. This is why it’s so critical to turn to a skilled SSD lawyer for help. Consult an expert who can review your application and guide you through this process. Patrick Hartwig and John Keefe have helped numerous clients get the disability benefits they need and deserve. Call us to book your free consultation. 

Patrick Hartwig
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Managing Attorney, Keefe Disability Law
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