On an average day the Social Security Administration gets 250,000 calls on its toll-free help line (800-234-5772), so it's no surprise that some people encounter difficulty getting through, reports Changing Times, the Kiplinger magazine.
According to SSA spokesman Frank Battistelli, you'll have the best luck if you call between 7 and 9 a.m. or between 5 and 7 p.m. He also advises calling later in the week and later in the month (to avoid the rush of calls when checks come out at the beginning of the month). Even during the periods of slower phone traffic, about 10 percent of callers will get a busy signal.What kinds of questions generate all of these calls? Here are three of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.
- How do I arrange to have my checks deposited at my bank?
The Social Security Administration can set up direct deposit for your checks if you take a checkbook or savings passbook with you when you apply for benefits at your local office. If you're already receiving benefits, you can arrange direct deposit by calling the Social Security help line.
- When do I sign up for Medicare?
You'll automatically be enrolled when you sign up for Social Security. If you're not eligible for Social Security or if you delay benefits past age 65, you should apply for Medicare at least three months before your 65th birthday.
- Does the Social Security Administration provide mailing lists of beneficiaries to companies?
No. The Privacy Act prohibits federal agencies from selling or renting mailing lists of individual names and addresses to companies.