Whether you’ve hit retirement age or you need to file disability, one thing holds true – Social Security law can be confusing. Who else would be better to call for clarification than the Social Security Administration themselves? Indeed, the SSA has advisors and technical experts on staff to help answer your questions.
And important questions they are. After all, filing for Social Security is a life changing event and the money is often necessary to survive. When your income is fixed, every little bit counts and there’s no room for error.
So, what do you do when the administration themselves get it wrong? What happens if an SS advisor provides you with an answer that ends up causing you to miss out on some of your benefits?
Unfortunately, it’s more common than it should be. In one situation, a disabled 66-year old was told by an advisor that they can’t collect full benefits unless they work full-time until they’re 70 years old. This was not possible, as this individual could only work 8 hours per week in their condition.
The advisor was wrong – disabled workers are awarded delayed retirement credits just like non-disabled workers. If they listened to the advisor, they could have been in a lot of unnecessary physical and financial pain.
What to Do If You Were Given Bad Information
Fortunately, there’s a provision in Social Security law that offers some protections in the case of misinformation. Under 20 C.F.R. § 404.633, the administration will resolve the complaint in your favor. However, a statement that you were given false information isn’t enough. The SSA requires significant documentation that clearly shows you were provided with the wrong information.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to document your interactions with the administration. If you’re applying for Social Security, here are a few good practices to follow:
- Document all correspondence with the administration.
- Record your phone calls and make copies of paperwork.
- If something doesn’t seem right, ask for a supervisor.
- Research – don’t accept the word of a single person. Your benefits are important, and you can’t afford to lose out due to the mistake of another.
Don’t Rely on SSA Advisors to Answer Your Important Questions
While this provision covers certain types of misinformation, it doesn’t cover everything. There may be situations where you’re told the wrong thing and there’s not much that can be done.
And when it comes to Social Security benefits, wrong answers are costly.
Our advice? Work with an attorney that specializes in Social Security. Having a legal professional on your side will help you avoid false information and it will increase the odds of your benefits getting approved quickly.