You Know What I Mean

July 14, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 14, 2016

plain-language blogWe want our friends, family, and even business partners to know exactly what we’re saying when we say it.

As a government agency that takes pride in serving our customers, we want you to understand our answers to your questions the first time, too.

At Social Security, we understand that clear and effective communication means more than just promptly taking a customer’s phone call or directing them to a helpful website. We want to provide useful information in a clear and easy-to-understand way, in writing, on the web, and over the phone. June was National Effective Communications Month, but at Social Security, we’re at the forefront of clear, concise communications all year round.

Our efforts to communicate clearly with the American public earned us high ratings in customer satisfaction and usability. We scored an “A” on the 2014 Federal Plain Language Report Card from the Center for Plain Language. This grade means we’re exceeding the standards of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires federal agencies to communicate clearly with the public. We’re the only federal agency to earn this honor for two consecutive years!

Not only is our website easy to navigate and understand, our publications and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are easy to read and understand, as well. You can browse through our collection of publications at to learn about Social Security, about our programs, and about what they mean to you and your family. Many publications are available in up to 17 languages, and they’re written in plain language. If you prefer a printed copy of a publication, you can call us at 410-965-2039, and we’ll mail a copy to you.

You can visit our FAQs and publications for accurate information at your convenience. Nothing is more important to us than meeting the needs of those we serve. We thank you, our customers, for your valuable feedback and vote of confidence!

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Richard M.

    First, I just wrote a. Lengthy letter telling the bureaucrats and politicians just what I and the rest of us who aren’t up on the hill what we think of those lazy, none working, get nothing done spoiled thieves and liars what we think about this big surprise in the mailbox received 3 days before our checks came. I didnt have enough left for an electric shut off biil, fuel for heat, or to pay for meds 4 days after major spin surgery. I’ll rewrite it at some point but for now I’m to sore to continue. But I will end with this : I will not sit quietly as they freeze, starve and imprison so they’re families can prosper. I will sing, s ream and holler to the mountains. With hope that the peoe follow me to stop this disgraceful assault on humanity. Stay tuned.
    Best Regards and power to the people.

  2. Amy V.

    I have waited on hold/call back for over an hour. They call me back, say how can I help you? When I start to tell them what’s going on, without warning or questions they hang up on me. The people working for Mansfield Ohio social security office are some of the rudest people and hardest people I’ve ever dealt with. Mr. Montgomery I believe his name is. Got upset because I phoned another part of S.S. for answers and found out he was trying to withhold information from me. Which doesn’t surprise me, because for yrs the men I have spoken to at our office have lied to me about wether I could work or not. Finally a lady from there told me I could and how much I can make monthly. I found out that my dad can appoint whoever he wants to be his payee. They said I can’t cause of old felony 25yrs ago. Got probation paid restitution and still am being punished 25yrs later. My brother who has ript off and is being charged with elder endangering is who they are listening to. Can’t understand that. But Richland county Ohio Mansfield Ohio social security office needs to fire a few and retrain others..

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Amy. We are sorry to hear about your experience. If you wish to submit feedback related to your experience, visit our Contact Social Security page. Once there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email a Question to our Support Team” form, where you can complete and submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion. If you suspect misuse of your father’s Social Security benefits, report it. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. You can also call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. We hope this helps.

  3. Rex B.

    I need to know about SSTaxes when working out of USA. Thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Rex, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Check out the Social Security Handbook regarding employment while outside the United States for details.

  4. David I.

    I recently met with an agent to potentially sign up for SS retirement, in August, just turning 69. The counselor said if I signed up then I would receive the retroactive months from Jan to August of 2018.
    If I sign up in Dec. will I still receive retro pay?
    How does retroactive pay work?

  5. Joan M.

    I am unable rot determine why the Medicare prescription plan cost for 2019 did not appear on my current Medicare benefit statement

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Joan, thank you for your question. You will want to contact your drug plan to ensure that you opted to have your premiums deducted from your monthly Social Security payment. Your first deduction will usually take 3 months to start, and 3 months of premiums will likely be deducted at once. After that, only one premium will be deducted each month. You may also see a delay in premiums being withheld if you switch plans. If you want to stop premium deductions and get billed directly, contact your drug plan.

  6. curtis j.

    ok my name is Curtis Jerome kimbrough birthday sep,13,1953 I all ready get ss been gel t because my social secritjy sence 2005 I think sence I am at age retired will I get more money thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Curtis, thank you for the question. If you’re already receiving disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, when you attain your Full Retirement Age. The benefit amount will generally remain the same.

  7. Droidpile@Mothers D.

    Beautiful wishes from a son to his mom on a special occasion such as Mother’s day will add so many folds of happiness in her life, it also as a memory which they have shared with each other for rest of their life. To read more articles about mothers day, please visit here –

  8. louis k.

    I have been trying to discontinue my online connection with because I can never give my correct three answers ,even though I have concrete evidence in hand that proves my correctness.I’ve grown very tired of this round robin situation so I only want my alerts and info sent by US mail only.Thanking you so much for reading this…Respectfully louis kelley

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for using our online services Louis! If you having difficulties with your personal “my Social Security” account, please call 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. After you hear “Briefly tell me why you are calling,” say “Help Desk”. We hope you try again. Thanks!

  9. tony

    I learned all this stuff from the lazy freeloaders before me. It is common knowledge. I haven’t seen the doctor for years, but I started seeing a doctor now since my review is coming up. I will just fall through the cracks like the millions of other lazy freeloaders.

    You can stop seeing the doctor after you are approved and start seeing them again when your review is coming up. The SSA doesn’t even bother to enforce their rules.


    Continuing Disability — The issue of “failure” may arise at the time of a continuing disability investigation where (1) subsequent to a prior favorable determination based on information indicating the individual was cooperating with prescribed treatment, the individual failed to follow through on such treatment or (2) treatment has been prescribed since the last determination. Such situations will require the same documentation as that outlined above to determine if “failure” exists and if it is justifiable. Benefits will be continued for 2 months after the month in which a determination of cessation occurs.

  10. tony

    The Short Form CDR is a joke. They only have to list their three most recent visit to the doctor and have the CDR deferred up to 7 years.

    They can go without seeing a doctor for years and see them when they are coming up for a review.

    In the application process they would be denied for failure to follow prescribed treatment for not seeing a doctor for over a year. They can get away with that during the Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

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