Social Security Administration Improvements for 2020
In November of 2019, Andrew Saul, a new Commissioner of Social Security took the reins. He has promised substantial improvements in the Social Security system, and in fact some have already been put into place.
Social Security Commissioner Outlines Improvements
Commissioner Saul published an open letter that outlines some of his plans and goals for the SSA. That letter can be found in its entirety on the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov/agency/coss-message.html. Essentially, Saul’s improvement plan is based upon common sense principles. But making improvements in an organization the size of the SSA is no easy task.
The Social Security Administration is comprised of numerous departments and a workforce exceeding 60,000 employees. Saul is committed to ensuring accurate and timely service to its clients whether it is issuing retirement checks, processing disability claims, or providing Social Security cards. He hopes to restore public faith in the Social Security system, and a key ingredient to achieving that goal is to focus on reducing wait times and improving customer service.
Expanded Hours in Social Security Offices
Over the past decade, Social Security field offices were closed on Wednesday afternoons starting at noon. The new Commissioner announced that as of January 2020, field offices would be open on Wednesday afternoons to match the schedule in place for the rest of the week. Offices will now be open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Restoring Wednesday afternoon public service hours will reduce confusion to the public, Commissioner Saul explained. His top priority is improving service. The consistent hours of operation and increased number of hours will increase efficiency and improve public perception with respect to Social Security customer service.
Hiring Additional Social Security Employees
Making the improvements that Commissioner Saul has in mind takes a lot of manpower. To address that need, Saul announced that the agency plans to hire 1,100 front line employees who will be tasked with providing service through the agency’s customer support phone number and in its processing centers.
The new employees will be added in stages. One hundred employees will be added to the processing center immediately, followed by approximately 500 added teleservice representatives for the 800 number. Later in 2020, an additional 500 employees will be added to further bolster the staffing of the 800 number.
Commissioner Saul sees the addition of the 1000-plus employees as critical to meeting his goal to provide superior customer service, to improve efficiency, and to reduce customer waiting times.
Improvements in Social Security On-Line Access
Even with such improvements as expanded hours and additional employees, in many cases, a visit to the local Social Security office is unnecessary due to the availability of online services. Individuals can create a “My Social Security” account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Through the “My Social Security” online service, people can receive personalized estimates of future benefits based upon their actual earnings. They can view their most recent Social Security statement and review their earnings history. They can easily request a replacement Social Security Card, and even check the status of their application. If a customer already receives Social Security benefits, he or she can initiate or change direct deposit online, and can download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.
The portal also features various resources including a retirement calculator and links to other online services, such as those pertaining to disability and Medicare benefits.
For those easily confused by technology, the customer service department will patiently answer questions and walk their customers through each step required to set up the account and/or to access the desired information.
Social Security Disability Attorneys – Long Beach CA
Social Security attorneys at the Long Beach Law Office of Cantrell Green have watched Commissioner Saul’s proposed improvements with interest. We are committed to keeping current on trends and innovations within the Social Security system so that we can advise our clients in the best way possible. Our attorneys understand that each client presents unique circumstances and sometimes you need personalized assistance that goes beyond the scope of what the Social Security Administration can offer. If you have specific questions with regard to your Social Security benefits, we are here to help you. Give us a call to schedule a consultation, and we will be glad to assist you.