Braving the Summer Heat for Social Security

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Seniors needing to speak with the Social Security Administration (SSA) sometimes have to jump through a lot of hoops. Complicated questions need time and focus to answer, and with a decreased staff, the SSA has had trouble dealing with the millions of seniors that need its help. As a result, seniors have had to exercise patience as long wait times have only increased.

And as summer reaches its peak, waiting to be seen by the SSA has gotten harder and more dangerous as seniors have to brave the intense summer heat for hours on end, CNBC’s Lorie Konish reports.

Summer Heat

Summer is the time for fun in the sun. But too much sun can be detrimental, as seniors waiting hours in the intense seasonal heat have experienced. Extended droughts throughout the country have made this summer particularly hotter. Seniors are facing temperatures close to, and sometimes over, 100 degrees. Seniors have been so desperate to be seen in person by an SSA agent that there have been reports of people camping outside the field offices to save their spot.

Heat advisories this high have led to some seniors collapsing from dehydration and heat exhaustion. As a result, the House Ways and Means Committee send an advisory letter to the SSA, asking for it to increase its safety precautions for seniors waiting in the summer heat.

Stay Calm, Stay Cool

Like Social Security itself, the SSA has a funding issue. Reasons for the long wait time include the recent return of in-person visits and the downgrading from 1,600 offices to 1,200. While the 2023 fiscal budget requests an additional $1.8 billion be added to the SSA budget to improve its services, we can’t wait for it to be enacted.

There will be a long waiting period no matter how you choose to interact with the SSA. However, there are ways to cut the line. Scheduling an appointment online or via a phone is one of the best options. While it may take a minute to get a hold of someone. You can confirm a time with your agent, so you don’t have wait outside in the blistering summer heat.

Use the website to answer all general questions ahead of time, so you can prioritize your specific questions and needs. That way you can take control of your benefit while staying cool.

For more Social Security tips and tricks, follow along with the Council for Retirement Security.

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