Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices reopened in April 2022, but service is still slow and disorganized. Here’s what you need to know.
Since Social Security offices reopened, long lines have been common in some areas of the country, with waits up to two hours or more. Services online and over the phone have been disorganized, even though a large number of workers are still teleworking from home.
Congress has started working to move more funds to the SSA to help with the poor service and staffing shortages, but so far there has only been a slight improvement in services.
Getting lost in the shuffle
Staff departures during the pandemic office closures, unopened mail and a work backlog have resulted in lost paperwork, bad advice and people getting the runaround. Up until recently, SSA offices were serving 46% fewer people at their field offices compared to before the pandemic.
Trouble with phone appointments
People are waiting 45 days or longer for phone appointments. The SSA’s ancient phone system is dropping calls and average hold times are up from 20 minutes in 2019 to 33 minutes today. Only 66% of calls are being answered.
Fewer disability awards
The lack of service is resulting in fewer disability awards being processed, dropping 11% in 2020 and then another 15% in 2021. The drop in awards for Social Security Income recipients is even worse in the same period.
There’s a backlog of more than one million first-time applications and wait times up to eight months. Even when someone gets their application approved, it can take months before payments start.
What you can do
If you are having trouble with Social Security services, call a lawyer for a consultation. Social Security problems are best handled by a local lawyer. The big national law firms simply do not have the experience or local knowledge to handle your case effectively.