SSA Phone Problems Persistently Plague Public
SSA’s outdated and overwhelmed telephone systems, and SSA’s attempts to unify and modernize them, continue to cause challenges for people attempting to contact the agency.
One way that SSA has tried to avoid the server crashes that were occurring in February and March is by adding limiters so that when too many calls come into the national teleservice center the system is not overwhelmed and does not crash. However, the agency gets higher call volumes in the winter months, and thus far has not had enough calls to reach the limiters’ thresholds.
SSA is also attempting to route more calls to the teleservice centers—and thus maximize field office staff available for walk-ins and in-person appointments—by only listing the national 800 number for most field offices on the Office Locator tool at ssa.gov. However, for representatives who need to contact a field office directly, the numbers are all still listed at www.ssa.gov/open/data/FO-RS- Address-Open-Close-Time-App-Devs.html.
Some additional relief may occur in the fall, as SSA plans to accomplish more phone system modernizations then. The national teleservice center improvements are planned to occur before those to field office telephones. Ultimately, both systems will be unified, along with SSA’s third major telephone system--the one at SSA headquarters.
However, SSA still needs to hire additional people to staff field offices and teleservice centers. The amount of hiring the agency can do, and the amount of overtime they can offer, depends heavily on the administrative funding SSA receives for Fiscal Year 2023. NOSSCR is advocating with Congress to provide the full amount of administrative funding requested by Acting Commissioner Kijakazi.
NOSSCR – APRIL 2022, Volume 44, Number 4