Social Security Forum® Volume 44, No. 4 – April 2022
Phone Problems Persistently
SSA’s outdated and overwhelmed telephone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-RSAddress-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.