Social Security local office hours

Social Security offices are busy places at any time of year. There are several ways for you to contact Social Security. 

To reach Social Security by telephone, call the national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). SSA employees are available at these numbers from 7:00am – 7:00pm local time, standard business days, with some automated services available 24 hours a day. These are national numbers with calls routed to different locations based on volume and time of day. SSA employees at these locations use the same computer system to answer your questions as local offices.   

To make the best use of your time, consider calling the national number when people from either coast are less likely to be calling too. Writing down your questions in advance can help you cover all your topics without making multiple calls.  

When calling, expect to be asked questions to verify your identity. If calling about someone else, for example to help a parent, it will be much easier if that person is with you when you call. 

Before visiting your local Social Security office, please be aware that local office hours changed almost two years ago.

Since January 2013, most local Social Security offices are open 9am to 3pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and 9am to Noon on Wednesday. A few small offices have different hours. View local office hours and related information online in the Contact Us / Find an Office section at www.socialsecurity.gov 

Most Social Security services do not require a visit to a local office. Services, such as applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits and replacing a Medicare card are conveniently available at www.socialsecurity.gov or through the toll-free numbers mentioned earlier. 

If you created a personal my Social Security account, you can download and print a letter verifying the amount of your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and, for Social Security benefits, even change your mailing address or direct deposit information. 

More about Social Security online services is at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/ 

Before visiting your local Social Security office, know the public office hours. View local office hours online in the Contact Us / Find an Office section at www.socialsecurity.gov 

National my Social Security Week

If you receive Social Security benefits or have Medicare, you can use a mySocial Security online account to:

1. Get your benefit verification letter;

2. Check your benefit and payment information and your earnings record;

3. Change your address and phone number; and

4.Start or change direct deposit of your benefit payment.

 If you do not receive benefits, you can use a mySocial Security online account to:

A) Get yourSocial Security Statement to review:

          1) Estimates of your future retirement, disability, and survivors benefits;

          2) Your earnings once a year to verify the amounts we posted are correct and see the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid.

B) Get a benefit verification letter stating that:

          1) You never received Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare; or

          2) You received benefits in the past, but do not currently receive them or

          3) You applied for benefits but haven’t received an answer yet.

Get your free personal online my Social Security account today! http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/

 

my Social Security & credit reports

Q: I was unable to create a my Social Security account because I have a security freeze on my credit report. Why should this matter?

A: As a protection for you, part of the process when you create your my Social Security account includes contact by Social Security with the credit report firm Experian to help verify your identity. As a result, you cannot create a my Social Security account online if you have a security freeze, fraud alert, or both on your Experian credit report. You first must ask Experian to remove the freeze or alert.

From its own internal records, Social Security can verify some of the information requested from you to establish your personal my Social Security account. For example, your birthdate and parent’s names are part of your Social Security number record.

Using an additional, external from Social Security, means to further prove your identity when creating the my Social Security record provides another layer of security. Experian provides questions from its records that also serve to verify your identity. These questions would not be about information routinely available, for example from a lost wallet or purse. Your Social Security number is not shared with Experian and information from that firm is not kept by Social Security.

Using Experian credit report information to help verify your identity may result in what is known as a “soft inquiry” on your Experian credit report. That report will show an inquiry by the Social Security Administration with the date of the request. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score, are not reported to lenders and you do not incur any charges related to them. It will not appear on your credit report from Equifax or TransUnion, and generally will be removed from your Experian credit report after 25 months.

Multiple layers of security protection are available for your use when creating your my Social Security account. Learn about them at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/.

Once established, your my Social Security account is useful whether or not you receive benefits yet. If receiving benefits or having Medicare now, you can:

Get your benefit verification letter

Check your benefit and payment information and your earnings record

Change your address and phone number and

Start or change direct deposit of your payment

If not receiving benefits yet, you can get your Social Security Statement with estimates of retirement, disability, and survivors benefits to help financial planning. You will also see your earnings record and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you have paid. 

 

Your letter with 2014 SSA amounts – more information

Yesterday I wrote about an important letter going to everyone receiving Social Security retirement, survivors or disability benefits.  If you receive Social Security, the letter tells you specific information about changes to your personal benefit amount due to the 2014 cost-of-living increase. Details about the letter are in yesterday’s post.

Keep this letter with your other important financial documents. You can use this letter when you need to prove the amount of your Social Security benefit amount. 

As mentioned yesterday, you, your spouse and your friends will probably receive your individual letters on different days. If you have not received your own letter, you should receive it soon.

Moving to today’s topic, what if you do not receive this letter?  

As with all letters to you during the year from Social Security, the letter about your 2014 amount is mailed to your address as shown on Social Security records.

If you moved but did not report your new mailing address directly to Social Security, your letter will be delayed by the time needed for the Post Office to forward it.

Even when your benefit payment continues going to the same bank, credit union or other financial organization without change, it is important to inform Social Security of changes to your mailing address.

Are you a snowbird? You can easily change your mailing address with the seasons while leaving your bank information unchanged.

Now is the time to update your mailing address, if needed. Contact Social Security by calling the national SSA toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1- 800-325-0778, to report your new address.

People receiving Social Security benefits can go online and print a letter to verify their amount, and even update their address, after creating a personal my Social Security account. Before establishing your own account, read How We Verify and Protect Your Identity in the my Social Security section. It explains the questions that you will be asked.

Today’s post is obviously more for people receiving Social Security benefits now. However, a my Social Security account is useful for other purposes even if you are not receiving benefits yet.

Whether or not receiving Social Security benefits right now, learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/ and create your my Social Security account today.   

 

 

How much is your 2014 Social Security benefit?

The 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014.

Across the entire country, everyone receiving a Social Security retirement, survivors or disability benefit will receive a letter about the 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for 2014. This letter will explain how much they will get per month in 2014 along with other important information.

Keep this letter. It is very important. Use it when you need to prove the amount of your Social Security benefit. Whether used to obtain financial help from housing and energy assistance programs or to qualify for a new vehicle bank loan, keeping this letter will simplify the process. Put it with your other important financial documents.

The letter contains much more than just the amount of your Social Security amount. It includes your monthly benefit before any deductions, the amount deducted for your Medicare Part B coverage, other deductions if any, and the net amount received each month. On the letter, this information will look something like this:

 How Much Will I Get And When?

Your monthly amount (before deductions) is ___________.

• The amount we deduct for Medicare medical insurance is ___________.

(If you did not have Medicare as of Nov. 14, 2013

or if someone else pays your premium, we show $0.00.)

The amount we deduct for your Medicare prescription drug plan is ___________.

(If you did not elect withholding as of Nov. 1, 2013, we show $0.00.)

The amount we deduct for voluntary federal tax withholding is ___________.

(If you did not elect voluntary tax withholding as of

Nov. 14, 2013, we show $0.00.)

After we take any other deductions, you will receive

Perhaps you already received this letter. If not, you should receive it soon. It is likely that you, your spouse and your friends will receive your individual letters on different days.

 Keep this letter with your other important financial documents. It is very important. Use it when you need to prove the amount of your monthly Social Security benefit.

Social Security newsletter

You can read and subscribe to a free, monthly, Social Security Administration electronic newsletter at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter/.

The current Social Security Update mentions the testimony of Glenn Sklar, SSA Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review, before Congress on November 19, 2013. He testified about Social Security’s efforts to improve the management of the disability appeals process. You can link to his testimony from the newsletter.

Another article is about Social Security Administration improvements in written communications. As reviewed by The Center for Plain Language, Social Security is the only federal agency that got straight A’s on the 2013 Plain Writing Report Card and the only one to get an A in plain writing. The Center for Plain Language grades federal agencies each year in two subject areas: Plain Writing and Compliance with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

 Other topics of the current newsletter are:

     Beneficiaries Celebrate the New Year with a COLA

     Keep in Mind our Holiday Hours

     Get Benefit Verification Online

Read and subscribe to this free Social Security newsletter at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/newsletter/.

Timeline for changing direct deposit; my Social Security

Q: My wife and I changed our direct deposit information at the same time. Why did one process immediately for the next month and the other take two months?

A: The most likely reason is that you each receive Social Security through your individual work records, with payments arriving on different days of the month. The 2013 schedule of Social Security benefit payment dates is here.

Nearly all changes to SSA records show on internal agency records within a day or two even though you might not immediately see the change. Direct deposit, the electronic routing of payment to your financial institution, is a good example.

Social Security must follow strict monthly processing timeframes when providing the Treasury Department with new address information. Depending on when Social Security receives your updated direct deposit information, compared to these timeframes and your payment date during the month, your next benefit might go to your new account or the change might not be effective until the following payment. Social Security strongly recommends keeping your old bank account open until benefits are received in the new account.

Have you created your personal my Social Security account yet? If yes, and you receive Social Security retirement, survivors or disability benefits, you can view and change the direct deposit information on your record, update your address and immediately download an online letter to verify the type or amount of benefits received at your convenience without contacting a Social Security office or calling the national number (1-800-772-1213 / TTY 1-800-325-0778). 

With a my Social Security account, people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can obtain the online letter to verify the type or amount of benefits received but cannot change direct deposit or address information.  

The processing timeframes mentioned above remain whether you change your direct deposit account information through your my Social Security account or by contacting Social Security. Remember that Social Security strongly recommends keeping your old bank account open until benefits are received in the new account.

New my Social Security Account Online Services Available

Today the Social Security Administration announced a big expansion to services available with a my Social Security account. The full press release follows.

Social Security Announces New Online Services Available

with a my Social Security Account

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the agency is expanding the services available with a my Social Security account, a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their benefit verification letter, payment history, and earnings record instantly using their online account. Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information online.

“We are making it even easier for people to do their business with us from the comfort of their home, office, or library,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I encourage people of all ages to take advantage of our award-winning online services and check out the new features available through an online my Social Security account.”

Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients with a my Social Security account can go online and get an official benefit verification letter instantly. The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to secure loans, mortgages and other housing, and state or local benefits. Additionally, people use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. People can print or save a customized letter. 

Social Security processed nearly nine million requests for benefit verification letters in the past year. This new online service allows people to conduct business with Social Security without having to visit an office or make a phone call, and very often wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. It also will reduce the time spent by employees completing these requests and free them to focus on other workloads.

People age 18 and older can sign up for an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Once there, they must be able to provide information about themselves and answers to questions that only they are likely to know. After completing the secure verification process, people can create a my Social Security account with a unique user name and password to access their information.

People age 18 and older who are not receiving benefits can sign up for a my Social Security account to get a personalized online Social Security Statement. The online Statement provides eligible workers with secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information, and estimates of future benefits they can use to plan for their retirement. In addition, the portal also includes links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability and Medicare.

“Given our significantly reduced funding, we have to find innovative ways to continue to meet the needs of the American people without compromising service,” said Commissioner Astrue. “These new enhancements will allow us to provide faster service to more people in more places.”

For more information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 

Need to verify the amount of your benefits? Go online.

Q: Can I get a letter to verify the amount of my Social Security benefit? 

A: Yes. Go to the “Top Services” section of www.socialsecurity.gov. Click on the “Services for People Currently Receiving Benefits” link to request a free proof of income letter. 

This letter proves your Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) amounts for situations ranging from assisted housing and fuel assistance programs to mortgage applications. You can also verify the type of benefits received without showing amounts. 

You select the information to be shown. Depending on your needs, the letter can provide amounts of monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), show the type of benefits received, if you have Medicare, or other information. 

The proof of income letter will arrive in about ten days.  

When requesting the letter, you will see a screen asking what information should be included. A letter showing all available benefit information is available, but including only the minimal information that you actually need is suggested for privacy reasons. Choices include one or more of the following.

  • The amount of your most recent monthly Social Security benefit and when you began to receive that amount   
  • The amount of your prior monthly Social Security benefit and the dates you received it   
  • The amount of your current monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment and when you began to receive that amount   
  • The type of Social Security benefits you receive (disability, retirement, survivor)   
  • The type of SSI payments you receive (aged, blind, disability)
  • The dates you were entitled to receive Medicare benefits   
  • Your date of birth

The proof of income letter is mailed to your address as shown on Social Security records. If you recently moved, and have not yet reported your new address change, contact Social Security instead of using this online process. Request verification of your benefit, and update your address at the same time, by calling the national SSA toll-free number, 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) or your local office.

Even with your benefits going electronically to your bank, always report a mailing address change to Social Security so that you receive mail about your benefits.