How to Solve Your Social Security Problems

Artwork: Robin Mead

Did you call or visit Social Security, and get told something that sounded weird, funny, random, disappointing or untrue? Don’t worry. You still have plenty of options.

If your application was denied:

You can appeal your case, and you can get a disability lawyer

You can check out this disability timeline to figure out your next steps

You can also do a million, billion things to increase your chances of getting approved

You can request a copy of your Social Security file to learn more about what happened

If your denial was a long time ago, you can start a new application 

If you are told you are not eligible to apply for disability

You can check out this list of What to do when you are told you aren’t eligible

If you missed a deadline

What to Do If You Missed a Deadline

If you think someone is telling you wrong information:

How Come Someone at Social Security is Telling Me This Weird Thing?

If someone is saying “no” to you, when you think the answer should be “yes”

If you call or visit the Social Security office and someone stonewalls you:

You can try saying one of these Magic Sentences To Turn a No Into a Yes

You can try these smart strategies to turn things around

Whatever you do Never Take No for an Answer Over the Phone or in a meeting. If you have not been turned down IN WRITING, then you have not yet even made your request.

You can request an appointment to meet with a supervisor (can be a phone appointment)

You can request an appointment to meet with a service representative who specializes in SSI or SSDI (can be a phone appointment) – they may know more than the random person on the phone or behind the counter.

If magic sentences and smart strategies don’t work, you can:

You can try to Get Help from Your Congressperson. There is a person on staff there who has the job of helping people sort out these kind of issues!

You can fill out a form to Request reconsideration on a decision

You can go up the food chain. Ask to speak to the supervisor, then the field office manager, then the area director, then regional offices. While doing this, also ask for support from your Congressperson’s office, they can be making calls on your behalf.

If the person you are dealing with doesn’t know the policies

You can find them yourself, print out a copy, and show them:

You can read the Social Security disability website for basic info

You can read the Social Security policy manual for complete regs

You can search the Social Security policy manual

If your problem relates to your medical records:

You can learn: How Do I Collect All My Medical Records (even the secret ones)?

You can also check: How Do I Make Sure My Records Aren’t Lost or Missing?

If you are not happy with something written by your own doctors, don’t approach Social Security about this, you need to address it with your doctor: How Do I Fix Problems in My Medical Records?

If you are not happy with something written by a Social Security doctor, you can bring a copy to your own doctor and ask them to write a rebuttal. Also, you can point out problems or mistakes to your lawyer and ask if they can help you with refuting the report.

If you are having a problem with your SSI check:

You can learn the learn the SSI regulations

If the problem is related to rent, food, or utilities: How Much Rent to Pay on SSI

If you have too many resources: If You Are Over the SSI Resource Limit

If you think your check is smaller than it should be: 

You can request an interview to have your SSI redetermined:  How to Handle an SSI Interview

If you don’t know what the problem is: 

You can check out this list to see what the problem is: How Come My Disability Check is So Small?

If Social Security says you owe them money back:

You can learn: How To Handle Overpayments

If you have been approved for disability or you are being reviewed:

You can learn: Everything You Need to Know the First Six Months

You can also learn: Everything You Need to Know the Rest of Your Life

If you have a problem with your review: How to Appeal a Disability Review

If you have a question and can’t get a reliable answer:

You can ask the Disability Advisor Kay Derochie

You can ask disability lawyers Ask a Question on Avvo

You can ask a former Social Security employee Tim Moore

You can also post your questions in the comments at the bottom of this page.

If you want to seek help from a nonprofit:

You can start contacting local agencies and asking for a referral to anyone who can provide you with legal advice or assistance with a Social Security problem. Call everywhere and keep calling and keep asking.

It is unlikely that people at the programs below will know complex Social Security policies, but they may know the basics and they may be able to help you do things like fill out forms, submit appeals, and make phone calls. You still want to learn as much as you can yourself about what policies apply to your situation.

You can look into: How to Get a Social Worker

You can contact your local nonprofit legal aid center

You can contact your Area Agency on Aging (Call them even if you are young!)

You can contact your Centers for Independent Living

You can try the Eldercare Locator (Again, any age)

You can contact your state’s Disability Rights agency

You can dial 2-1-1 on your phone and ask for poverty and disability agencies

If you think someone at Social Security has broken a policy

You can find out what Social Security office is handling your case right now and call and ask to speak to a supervisor. Try to find the name and number of the policy if possible. Also contact the staff at your Congressperson’s office. They can inquire on your behalf.

You can also try contacting various Social Security agencies and see if you get any response: Office of Public InquiriesYour Congressperson and/or Senator, Office of Inspector General, Division of Quality Services, Discrimination Complaint, Social Security Support Team, Social Security Regional Offices, Social Security Administrator

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

13 thoughts on “How to Solve Your Social Security Problems”

  1. Hello,

    Can a Ssi recipient take an international trip if it is gifted to him. Are there rules and regulations for this?

    Do all gifts have to be reported.

    Thank you


    1. All gifts I should be reported. If he is given any money, this will lower his SSI. If he’s only given items like plane tickets, this will not lower his SSI. If he is on SSDI the rules are different and there will be no impact. He cannot leave the country for more than 30 days or his SSI check will stop. Again, this does not apply to SSDI.

      The first step is to be 100% certain what form of Social Security he is on, as many people are incorrect about what they are on.

      If he is given free food, or housing, this will lower SSI. However a short stay at a hotel probably would not have an impact. This typically refers to ongoing housing and groceries.

      In short: food, rent, utilities, money will lower and SSI check. Other types of gifts will not.


  2. Bare with my writing please I’m new to commenting. I don’t know what else to do. I recieved the cdr short & then long form and then had a cessation of my disability benefits back in March. They said my medical condition had improved enough to work at some level and they also said they had enough medical information to decide the cessation of disability. I have and ssid also has the records from age 13, when I 1st saw a psychiatrist, then went to juvie for running away after being sexually abused by an in-law, then got transferred to a state hospital for adolescents when I was 16 and got out when I was almost 18. I was in and out of the hospital for mental health at least 4 more times in my twenties. Until now where I still see a dr regularly for bipolar 1, PTSD(not just for the sex abuse), anxiety, ocd and major depressive disorder. I also don’t leave the house except exactly 1 time a month for an appointment by taking an uber because I can’t drive anymore because of my anxiety, stopping on the side of the road overwhelmed and just plain not getting out of the house now. In the last 3 years I’ve gotten so much worse which I’ll touch more on. My dr recently gave me a letter to let them know that I cannot work and why. He noted many issues with my focus/memory /depression and anxiety, and also suggested therapy in the letter along with his working with me for the appeal I filed after cessation. I plan to turn this in asap after the hearing officer emails my records she said she would. The phone hearing I have is on April 28th. The original cessation date of benefits stopping was for 4/29 but I filed the appeal for continuing benefits during the appeal. Are they trying to get me off of disability for good since my hearing is the day before that date they initially sent of cessation? My meds are still being adjusted as well all of the time. I take lamictal 300mg zoloft 200mg and clonazepam up to 2 mg a day. I have 2 children, a 13 year old son and an almost 15 yr old daughter and I love them so much. They are honor roll students and thriving. Beautiful kids. I’m so upset how much I’ve gone down in the last 3 years & them seeing that and try my best to never get into much about my mental health. I am 35 now. I barely can get out of bed. My fiance who is a hardworking oyster boat captain of 23 years does all the shopping and attending the kids events for the last 3 years too. It hurts me so badly to not be attending daily life and school functions anymore for my children and how much help he has given me. I love them so much. I’ve been on disability since 2009 after my son was born. I got approved for disability the first time. I moved from Texas in 2012 up to Connecticut and have only had one cdr with continuation of benefits, of course this was before the cessation earlier this year. I think my meds stopped working about 3 years ago so the doctor has been trying me on different dosages and medications as well so I can feel at least a little better to hopefully get back to work again one day. I still need help from ssid right now though as I have gotten worse. I can’t work. I can’t sit still, stand still or concentrate on anything digital or technical. Writing this was very difficult and took me 4 days to finish and decide to post. I need to keep my benefits to keep trying to get better first and foremost. What should I do? Thanks for your time reading if you do. Did they make a mistake possibly because it said they had enough medical information to make a decision. However when I first called to get the process of appealing the decision started, the lady I spoke to hinted at why they would choose cessation, she wasn’t just an operator and she wasn’t my case worker type person but she was an in office lady. The people/case worker type people asked and keep asking if I see a psychiatrist which I have seen him for 8 years at least 5 times a year, and every operator & ssa worker and hearing officer keeps asking if I see a psychiatrist and what their name is or if he’s just a nurse assistant which he’s not. Again he did choose to write a letter stating how I wouldn’t function in any job out there right now and why I wouldn’t be able to work for my upcoming hearing and I will turn it in to help the hearing hopefully. Someone mentioned to me on reddit that I should ask to reschedule the hearing until the pandemic allows in person hearings if they would allow it and they would still give benefits until then. I am not sure about that but if I get denied after this appeal can I ask to keep getting benefits and appeal it again. Sorry for all the questions. Do you think i can get my benefits back? I know my questions here may be a little hard to understand but I have a hard time putting things together online/technically sorry. I’m terrified of this phone hearing coming up. Absolutely heartbroken since this happened. Any advice or hope? Thank you.


    1. I’m very sorry to hear that you were in this position. I apologize for the late response.

      Appealing a continuing disability review can take months or years, just keep appealing until you get as far as you can. Most people get their benefits back.

      This page has information on the steps you can take that will greatly increase your chances of having a good outcome. I hope this helps:


  3. I had two trial work months counted that were not even close to being over the limit I am allowed to make. I have made numerous calls, and wrote a letter asking why they were counted, and provided pay check stubs.. The response to my letter had absolutely nothing to do with my question-standard form letter. This has been going on for months, and months. I am at a loss. If they wont help who can?

    Thanks so much for this blog!


    1. You can try filing a request for reconsideration form on the decision. Enclose your proof. They. must process it and give an answer. If they don’t make a fair decision, keep appealing.

      You can also try congressperson’s office for help – links above.


  4. I have an Overpayment with the Social Security office. I have never missed a payment since I’ve had it. I was one week away from closing on a house…got cold feet and delayed it for another week. Within that time period a “Flag” was placed on my account advising of delinquency. This was the end of Dec. 2019. I have had no luck with SS and have gotten Congress involved. It’s almost April and I continuously get “We are working on it” from SS, they have now taken my Federal refund as the account shows as delinquent and it’s not… what else can be done?? I am on the verge of loosing the home that I have had built from ground up as well as paying fees for not following thru. All due to false information on my account!


  5. My grandson is disabled and began receiving SSI when he was small. His father became disabled a few years later and my grandson was taken off his SSI by Social Security and began drawing receiving benefits from his disabled father. These benefits were much less than his earlier SSI. He is now 16 and what will happen when he reaches 18.


    1. I’m not sure why his SSI went away, possibly household income from parents with too high or if is receiving child support. When he is 18, his parents income will no longer count.

      He will go through a medical review. Some children have difficulty passing this so anything that you can do to help get good medical records and assessments can help.

      If he passes the medical review, he’ll continue to collect off his father, and if the amount Is very low and he has no other income, he will likely qualify for some SSI as well. Most parents with disabled children set up a rental agreement with their child when they turn 18, without a rental agreement his SSI will be reduced.

      If parents income is low, he can also apply for SSI right now, I don’t know what it is that made him ineligible.


  6. Thank you so much for addressing these very real issues, I don’t see many blogs like this.

    I’m in the application process and we are struggling while we wait roughly 2 years for approval, according to my lawyer. Thank you for the information to speed this process where possible


  7. I just got this email from a friend:

    “Omg the motherload… The most amazing site ever Seriously angels
    created it It has everything for everyone Read and weep”

    And she’s right

    Liked by 1 person

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