Ask anyone: Waiting on much-needed Social Security disability benefits is often frustrating. (That’s especially true when you don’t know how long a “normal” wait time is to get something done in person.) The Social Security Administration (SSA) deals with a variety of issues — from complex cases to budget shortfalls and more. So, it’s no surprise that many people plan their whole day around visiting the nearest Social Security office.
Since not everyone has a whole day to spare, we pulled some info to help you plan your trip. Based on the SSA Inspector General’s audit report, here’s what to expect at your next Social Security office visit.
How Many People Visit A Social Security Office In Person Each Year?
First, let’s look at how big the SSA is and how many field office locations exist. Today, the agency has approximately 1,220 field offices in 10 regions across the nation and in U.S. territories. These field offices allow SSA employees to serve the public directly and answer their questions. And they serve a lot of people. In 2016, SSA offices nationwide served approximately 43.5 million visitors. To find the closest Social Security office near you, enter your ZIP code and click “Locate” on this page.
Average In-Person Processing Times for the Most Common Requests
On average, it takes one SSA employee 17 minutes to process new or replacement Social Security number requests. Disability claims typically take around 130 minutes to complete for each applicant. Supplemental Security Income applicants aged 65 and older spend around 91 minutes filing claims, on average. However, blind or disabled SSI applicants younger than 65 take 101 minutes to file their claims in person. Need to let the SSA know that you moved, got divorced or make another status change? For once, visiting the Social Security office is faster — it takes just 6 minutes to update your file!
Is Making an Appointment at the Social Security Office Faster?
If your time is limited or you have children coming along with you, then yes, make an appointment! About 3 million (7%) of the 43.5 million visitors made appointments before their Social Security office visits. People who made a Social Security office appointment waited just 4 minutes, on average; everyone else waited about 28 minutes. However, making an appointment doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get in and out any faster. In 2016, 32,000 people who made appointments (about 1%) still waited at their Social Security office for least an hour. (Even worse, 200 people with Social Security office appointments waited more than 4 hours for service!) In general, however, an appointment is still the fastest way to get helped in person at your local SSA office.
Which Office Locations Have the Longest Wait Times?
Your luck may depend entirely on which Social Security office location you choose to visit. Understaffed offices, new-hire trainees and bad weather can all lead to unusually long wait times for visitors. But from 2010-2017, these six SSA office locations consistently ranked among the longest wait times 5-6 years in a row:
- Guam (average wait time: 66 minutes)
- Mid Cities, Texas (average wait time: 65 minutes)
- Allapattah, Florida (average wait time: 63 minutes)
- Torrance, California (average wait time: 56 minutes)
- Orlando, Florida (average wait time: 52 minutes)
- Perrine, Florida (average wait time: 51 minutes)
If your local SSA office is listed above, consider making an appointment… and plan to wait awhile.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
If you want free, yet professional help with your disability claim, we strongly recommend talking to an attorney. You can apply for free at the nearest Social Security office, if you already have convincing medical evidence to submit. Filing your claim is free, whether you go through a lawyer or apply in person at the Social Security office. However, a lawyer makes you 3x more likely to win SSD benefits the first time you apply.
Last year, about 4 in every 5 first-time applicants got denied disability benefits. Just under half those people got denied for basic paperwork mistakes, like leaving a required field blank. A lawyer can help you avoid these simple errors, and you’ll never pay any fees unless you win benefits. If you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now:
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.