Social Security Field Office Service Changes
To meet increasing service demands despite shrinking budgets, Social Security has invested in technological innovations offering more convenient, cost-effective and secure options for the public. Considering these factors, Social Security is making some service changes in our field offices across the country.
On August 1, 2014, Social Security will stop offering Social Security number printouts. Also, on October 1, 2014, our offices no longer will issue benefit verification letters. As a result of these changes, we ask agencies and organizations that routinely need access to these materials to use the data exchanges specifically developed for this purpose.
Social Security has collaborated with other federal, state and local agencies to build hundreds of robust data exchanges during the past few years. Today, Social Security provides more than 1.6 billion electronic verifications of Social Security numbers or benefit information to employers, state and local agencies, and other authorized third parties. Agencies and organizations should use available data exchanges to get the necessary verifications.People needing proof of their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits can get verification letters online instantly through a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. They also can get one mailed to them by calling our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Applying Online: www.socialsecurity.gov
Your client can apply for Social Security retirement, spouse or disability benefits right over the Internet. If you are assisting someone with applying for disability benefits you’ll also need to help them complete the disability report, which also is available online. After they have applied, they can check back online for the status of their application.
You can use our online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST), at www.benefits.gov/ssa to see which kind of benefits a person might be eligible to apply for. Just answer a series of questions and find out whether they are eligible for Retirement (RI), Disability (DIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can even find out whether they might be eligible for Medicare benefits.
New Online Services Available with a my Social Security Account:
If your clients need proof of their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits, let them know that they can get a benefit verification letter online instantly through a my Social Security account.
You can serve your clients faster because they no longer have to travel to a Social Security office or wait for a letter to be mailed to them. They can get the up-to-date information they need online, perhaps even from a computer in your office.
With my Social Security those who receive benefits can easily view, print, or save an official letter that includes proof of their:
Benefit amount and type;
Medicare start date and withholding amount; and
Please do not send your client to a Social Security office for a benefit verification letter. Instead, send them to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount
The fact sheet, How To Create An Online Account (Publication No. 05-10540), provides step-by-step instructions and explains how to get a benefit verification letter.
Find A Social Security Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp
There’s so much a client can do online, but sometimes a person may want to talk with a Social Security representative face-to-face. If that’s the case, their first step is to visit our online field office locator. You just type in your ZIP code and find the Social Security office closest to you.
Your clients can telephone us 24 hours a day including weekends and holidays, by calling our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.
Callers between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday can speak to a representative. Some of the services available include scheduling an appointment, address changes and signing up for direct deposit of Social Security checks directly to the bank.
A person who calls outside of this timeframe will receive assistance from an automated system where they can request services such as a replacement Medicare card or Social Security Statement and a variety of other forms and publications.
People who are hearing impaired may call our Text Telephone (TTY) number at 1-800-325-0778 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Clients can also have pamphlets and other information faxed to them by calling our 24-hour Fax Catalogue number, 1-888-475-7000.
Video Service Delivery:
Did you know that we have Video Service Delivery Centers (VSD) set up in some communities so clients don’t have to drive to their local office?
At a VSD Center a person can use the video phone at a designated location where an SSA employee can see, talk to and assist them.
A client does NOT have to know how to use a computer for this service. A list of VSD sites are located after each State Resource page.
For your convenience, we have included a list of the Chicago Region’s Social Security local offices by their respective states in the State Resource section of this guide.
Q and A
Q. Some of my clients are more comfortable talking on the phone, can they still call Social Security for assistance?
A. Yes, you or your client can still contact your local office and the national toll free service center at 1- 800-772-1213 for assistance.
Q. Can I assist my client in applying for Social Security benefits online?
A. Yes. You can assist your clients in applying online for Social Security retirement, spouse's or disability benefits online. To assist your client in preparing to apply for retirement or spouse's benefits, you may want to first visit our Retirement Planners online.
If you are helping someone prepare an Internet Social Security Benefit Application, there are some things you should know: You cannot electronically sign the application on behalf of the applicant. There are no exceptions to this rule. Only the person you are helping can electronically sign his or her Internet Social Security Benefit Application and attest to the accuracy of the information provided.
If the applicant wishes to appoint you as his or her official representative, the applicant must sign and submit a written statement appointing you to represent him or her in dealings with Social Security. Use an SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) for this purpose. Then, in the Summary/Remarks section of the Internet Social Security Benefit Application and/or Internet Disability Report add:
"A Form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) is being forwarded to SSA on (date)."