I hear a lot of horror stories about going to the Social Security office.
If you need to go to the Social Security office to get a replacement card, change your name, or try to straighten something out with SSA, here are a few tips:
- Don’t go! Before you put yourself through the misery, check the Social Security website to see if you can take care of the problem without going in. Here is a list of things you can do online without going to a Social Security office!
- Call first! You may be able to resolve the problem with a phone call.
- Call the national toll free number at 1-800-772-1213.
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Click here for the phone number for your local office.
If you still need to go to your local office, here are some tips to help you survive:
- Get ready to wait. Depending on how busy it, you may be there a while. Seriously. You may be there the entire morning or afternoon.
- Consider bringing the following:
- Bring a book, newspaper or magazine.
- Bring water (note some offices may not allow this).
- Bring a snack. Even if you are not allowed to eat at the office, you usually can eat just outside the office. This is especially important if you have diabetes or have problems with low blood sugar. However, everyone should consider this as you may be there for more than 3 or 4 hours.
- Bring a cushion if you have trouble sitting for extended periods.
- Bring a friend. It will help pass the time and you have someone to make sure you are not skipped while in the bathroom or on a cigarette break.
- Bring a walkman, or mp3 player.
- It can get noisy, so consider bringing earplugs. BUT, don’t miss your name or number being called!!!
- Show up early. Many offices open at 8:30 but some do not open until 9:00 AM. Use the office locator to find out the opening and closing times for your office.
- Show up late. Many offices have a policy that if you are in the door before closing, you have to be seen. The flip-side of this is that if you have a difficult problem or you need someone at Social Security to be in a good mood and want to help you, showing up late may not help.
- Ask the security officer for the best days or times to come back. If you cannot get your problem resolved, the security officer often knows the best times to return to minimize your wait.
- Do not bring a weapon (even if it is otherwise legal). This includes the pocket knife you bring everywhere or pepper spray. Going to the Social Security office is enough of a chore without getting arrested too.
Do you have any tips for surviving a trip to Social Security? Tell us in the comments!
Photo by brdonovan