You Don’t Need A Magic 8 Ball To Find The Answers To Your Questions

February 16, 2016 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

picture of an 8 ballSometimes, finding answers to your questions on government websites can feel a lot like asking questions of a Magic 8 Ball™. That’s not the case with Social Security’s frequently asked questions.

In 2015, Social Security won the “ClearMark Award of Distinction” for best plain language websites and documents from the Center for Plain Language for our redesigned Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) website. We continue to improve our communications to provide you with clear, helpful information and easy access to our services.

We recently narrowed down our FAQs from more than 500 to less than 200. The newly revised FAQs are more clear and concise. You come to our website for immediate answers, not a long drawn out experience. We’re all busy, right?

Social Security wants our online content and our communications with you to be accurate and easily accessible. We want you to locate the information you’re looking for faster than a magician could wave his wand. We are constantly searching for ways to improve navigation throughout our online presence and use feedback from your comments and suggestions when making changes to our website.

Visit our new FAQ home page to find the answer to your question. We promise that with our award-winning site, you won’t get the result reply hazy, try again later. When it comes to getting an answer, you’ll find out that your outlook is good.

See Comments

About the Author

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Sandra M.

    My husband (deceased 2 years ago) worked for the Commonwealth of MA and I worked (retired) for the City of Springfield, MA. I cannot get his Social Security payments due to this — why?

    • Ray F.

      Hi Sandra. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies) can affect the amount of your Social Security benefits. Your benefits can be affected based on one of two provisions. Widow’s benefits under Social Security may be affected by the Government Pension Offset. Your own Social Security benefit can be reduced based on the Windfall Elimination Provision. For more information, go to our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page. Thanks.

  2. Linda

    How long after court and you are approved does it take to get started drawing or back pay. It has been three months next week

    • Ray F.

      Hi Linda. The length of time it takes to begin receiving payments after receiving a favorable decision in a hearing varies. Approved claims are randomly selected for a quality assurance review of the decision. We care about our customers and are working as fast as we can. For security reasons, we do not have access to information about your account in this venue. In your situation, we encourage you to contact your local office or call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and speak to one of our representatives. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Thanks!

      • lydiacopeland

        I looked at the draft saying $5331 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law realey receiving money in there spare time online. . there great aunt had bean doing this 4 only about fifteen months and a short time ago repayed the loans on their cottage and bought a great new Bugatti Veyron . visit this site …


  3. James L.

    why does a SSD medical expert, that went to a inferior school, interned at a inferior hospital, and gets paid $290,000 per year by SSD, carry more weight than the treating physician?

  4. carren

    I would like answers to some of the questions other people have asked as well

  5. Sandra M.

    I can’t get my husband’s (deceased) Social Security because I retired from the City of Springfield — why? Immigrants coming into the country get Social Security payments without paying into it — Why??? Waiting time is horrendous for answers and solutions. Is it easier to put up with the abuse of some instead of weeding them out and penalize those who are obeying the law and are hurt by this? Disgusted here.

    • Marc

      False again. First, are you asking about getting survivor’s benefits from your husband’s Social Security retirement or was he on Social Security Disability (SSDI)? They aren’t remotely related. If you’re wanting survivor’s benefits. A spouse receives half of what the deceased spouse was receiving and he already had to have filed for benefits before he died. And they give you either your own benefit IF YOU’RE ELIGIBLE or his survivor’s amount whichever is the larger amount. You do not get both. Government workers are not eligible for Social Security because they don’t pay in as they have a separate government retirement pension plan. And no “immigrants” do NOT collect one dime of Social Security if they have not paid into the system, no one does. If you want to complain you should at least complain about something that is actually true.

  6. L.B.Musson

    How can I become my own payee for my disability ssi.
    So, I can be in charge of my info only?

    • Ray F.

      Generally, we’ll need a statement from your doctor if you would like to become your own payee. The statement should say that you are now mentally and physically able to take care of yourself and that you are able to keep your finances in order. Please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. You can also contact your local Social Security office. For more information, visit our “FAQs For Beneficiaries Who Have A Payee” web page. Thanks!

  7. Francisco P.

    I have pending my case here in Puerto Rico I like to know when is the date to see my virtual conference case in Mayaguez I’m wait for two long years without salary for my conditions. In this time last 6 months are impossible to receive Psicological Attention for my Actual Economy Situation is Impossible to have the money to pay the treatment.All Medical and Psicologic Conditions are going bad in Progress.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Francisco. The length of time it takes to get a hearing can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of pending appeals in your area. Please continue working with your local hearing office on specific questions about your case. While you wait you may want to check and see if you are eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include medical assistance, and help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services or welfare office.

  8. Jean D.

    I’m waiting to talk to some one. Mom died yesterday. You don’t a specific number to call to discontinue bennifits? this ludacous.

    • vjones

      The funeral home should contact Social Security whenever there is a death and they provide the arrangements. Sorry for you loss

    • Ray F.

      Hi Jean. We are sorry for your loss. Typically, the funeral director notifies us of an individual’s passing by sending the deceased person’s death certificate to the local Social Security office. However, you may report the death of your mom’s passing by calling 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit payment, a person has to live throughout the entire month. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. Keep in mind that Social Security benefits are paid the month after they are due. For example, if the person dies in February, you must return the benefit paid in March. Thank you.

  9. Tarrill A.

    How do I make an in person appointment in my local office? I would like to apply my retirement benefits. The number of the local office, 1 (866) 495- 0088, is not answered by a person and will not put my call thru without my having the name of the person I am calling.

    Any suggestions on how to set up an in person appointment? Thank you.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for using our blog, Tarrill. You can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment with your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting, it also establishes a protective filing date. However, you can right now complete the online application for your Social Security retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. It’s so easy, you can apply from the comfort of your home or office at a time most convenient for you. Representatives at our toll-free number are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. They can assist you with your application online. Generally, it’s best if you call later in the day or later in the week.

  10. Jillanne

    I’m disabled and nearest very bad depression and anxiety I have applied for Social Service disability and I turn down. April 2015 so I appealed it in June of 2015 I’ve heard nothing …I dont understand for what reason I’m being turned down. Is a possibility my bankruptcy has interfered with me getting mine disability? I really need help and can’t work In my bankruptcy they have taken my home $225,000 and never gave me one dime!! They also physically remove me knowing that I have no money to move and my disability hinders me from packing and moving without help which they were given an explanation by my doctor in a letter. Is there anything I can do about the abuse they have put upon me and now I’m homeless this house they took from me was 1/2 mine the other half my mother when she passed away it became all of mine. I am devastated I have been in bankruptcy now since September 11th 2013 and I was discharged December 10th 2013 and now they’re trying to take away my discharge and I have no lawyer no money and no home!

    • Margaret K.

      You need to go to a Legal Services program for legal representation. Find a good social security disability representative to help with your disability.

    • tony

      SSI is the new welfare. Once the welfare runs out, they make an appointment with the psychiatrist/psychologist and complain about depression and anxiety to get disability. The doctors will diagnosed them with some type of mental impairment because they need the money. The doctors will have them coming back for treatment every month. There are millions of people claiming depression and anxiety. These people don’t want to work and are so desperate that they will check themselves into a mental institution to get approved.

      You are new to the game and need help from a social security attorney or non-attorney representative. They will get their doctors or yours to do an RFC and list all your restrictions and limitations.

      • Marc

        This is so incredibly wrong that it’s almost not even worth answering but here goes. First, SS I is welfare for extremely low income disabled persons. The SSA administers the program but the money does not come from the Social Security fund. SSDI is a completely separate program which has n I connection whatsoever with SSI. It is insurance paid into by people who worked all their lives and who became totally disabled and unable to work at all at any job. The rules are very strict and no one, certainly not “millions” of people who “don’t want to work” gets SSDI with a doctor’s note claiming they have some bogus mental problem. One has to have worked the required number of hours within recent years before becoming disabled to even be qualified to apply. The disability has to be one that has or is expected to last at least one year or result in desrh. The process to apply is extremely complicated and difficult and over half of all applicants are denied on the first pass. Each person must be examined by an independent doctor who specializes in whatever ailment the applicant is claiming and that determines whether or not you’re approved, not a note from your doctor. You have to provide all your medical records from every medical provider you’ve ever seen for this condition meaning it has to be thoroughly documented. I seriously doubt if any doctor would spend the time to writeup years of false information documenting years of false treatments that didn’t happen since its hardb enough to get them to fill out a form for your health insurance company even, much less go to all that trouble to commit a serious felony and risk prison time so a lazy person can get a lousy $1100 a month in benefits. You either have no idea what you’re talking about or you’re deliberately spreading blatantly false information. The true facts, including a list of every condition that is a qualified disability and all the numerous requirements for each, is right here on this website. And the process even if someone is approved take a year and sometimes even 2 or 3.

        • Lisa

          Marc, your facts are true to a point! There are people that know how to “Get Around the Sytem”! The sad thing, they are taking from others with Real Disabilities, Fought Years, Met All Requirements! These Individuals jump from State System to the next so they don’t have to work!! I have seen first hand someone commit Fraud, get benefits back again. How the heck does this happen? Now try Soc. Security with a lawyer! They know how to fake with their doctors and when they need med. records. I am sure had many visits to the ER bc they prev. were on Medicaid!! While those of us with chronic illnesses fought and seem to still be fighting!!

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