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Social Security and You: I Can't Get Involved in Personal Social Security Cases

Tom Margenau on

Over the more than 20 years that I've been writing this column, I'm sure I've helped tens of thousands of people get a better understanding of the Social Security system. But one thing I can't do is get involved in a reader's personal Social Security case. Yet, every single day, I get emails from readers asking me to do just that.

One very unhappy reader told me that she is getting disability benefits but there is some kind of mix-up involving unpaid student loans. She said that the government held back some of her Social Security benefits to repay these overdue college loans. But she claims she has already paid off the loans. She asked for my help in getting her Social Security money back.

In another email, a reader went off on a long rant about how the Social Security Administration was supposedly incorrectly holding back some of her Social Security check to repay an overpayment. I guess she's been haggling with SSA over this issue for a long time. She wanted me get involved and "do something!"

Yet another reader told me that he had allegedly been approved for Social Security disability by a judge. But somehow that decision got reversed, and he's trying to fight this. He wanted me to tell him why the decision was changed.

And here is one more example. An 82-year-old man told me that even though he has been getting Social Security checks for 20 years now, he's always been convinced he's not getting enough money. He told me he's been "fighting with the Social Security people forever" about this and wants me to intervene.

Even though I worked for SSA for 32 years, I retired in 2005. Obviously, I no longer have access to any Social Security records or files. And in the 14 years since I retired, I've pretty much lost contact with any Social Security official who still works for the agency. So I'm afraid I have no inside track to anyone or any department within SSA.

 

I know a lot of the folks who email me are desperate, so they reach out almost as a last resort. Or they just need to vent to someone.

So what can these people do? Well, sometimes they should accept the facts. For example, consider that 82-year-old man I mentioned. I am sure he is being paid correctly. He needs to let this issue go and get on with his life.

Other folks who claim to be having problems dealing with SSA need to find someone at their local Social Security office who can help them. And if they believe they are getting nowhere with the representative they've been dealing with, maybe they should ask to speak to a supervisor.

If they've exhausted all their channels of help within the agency, the only course of action I can think of is to contact their local member of Congress. Each congressperson has someone on staff who works on Social Security issues.

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