Regular Contributor

Need guidance on what to say when social security agent is being "overly unpollite"

I called social security today and the agent was overly not being polite.

It started out with her answering the phone and giving her name and where she was (my phone said the call was from Texas but she said she was calling form Oregon). She said "Do you need help with a general question or do I need to pull up your records". And said it in a gruff manner. I am not more sensitve than the next person but you notice those tones. Nonetheless I ignored it 


I said I think this is just a general question and asked my question. To which she barks "So you need me to pull up your personal information". Now I am feeling embarrased as if I did something wrong.


I was asking for the procedure to file a request with Social Security to go over your records to determine if you are getting the proper amount of social security. That was my question. 


She decided she could do that and pulled up my records. I started to explain where I was coming from and she cuts me right off and says "I don't need to hear that". I was baffled as I thought I was explaining the reason for my call. But I stopped talking if she didn't need it.


She kind of angrily said " This is an easy one, iti says here you did not work 4 years out of the last 50 years". I told her that was a mistake as I did work those years. To which she says again, "I don't need to hear that. I am just telling you what I see here".


It was a one way conversation with her determining if I could talk or not!


I hung up extremely frustrated but what could I possiblly have said while speaking to this person? I mean actual words? I did not want to allienate her as she was the one supposedly "helping" me, but her was of relating to a customer was one of being annoyed or angry that she had taken my call. She sounded that way from "hello".


How do you handle such calls? What can one say during such a phone call? Any input would be appreciate. Social Security is an important topic and if there is poor communication about something that is major in your life, that's not good! Besides, I had to wait an hour to get a return call so I didn't want to have to wait another hour.



Gold Conversationalist



GailL has given you her usual excellent advice. I will add my own 2 cents.


My first cent:


It sounds as though you are already receiving your retirement benefits but are thinking that perhaps the SSA is coming up a bit short in them. That's understandable, how ones retirement benefit is calculated is a bit technical.


You mention that you did work those 4 years out of the last 50 years. Now I realize that I am a bit confused. I took this to mean that you actually worked at employment for 50 years but that the SSA (Social Security Administration) had no record of 4 of those years. Am I mistaken in your working 50 years?


In fact, just to clarify, are you drawing benefits on your own work records or spouse's (living or deceased)?


In any case, if you did work those full 50 years (a very long career!) let's consider that:


1 - were all of your jobs covered under Social Security? Some types of jobs were not covered and may still not be covered (I think this may include wait staff and a number of others).


2 - More importantly, the 46 or 50 years of working (if I understand correctly) is a moot point. It (likely) doesn't matter as far as your benefit goes. Your SS benefit is determined by using the 35 years of highest earnings. So if you worked 36 or 40 or 46, it doesn't matter (unless those were high-earning years). If someone does not have a full 35 years' worth of covered earnings then for benefit calculation purposes the "blank" years are treated as "0" income and will cause the calculated benefit to be smaller than otherwise.


When calculating the SS benefit those 35 years' earnings are manipulated through some fancy calculations with standard inflation factors, etc, to come up with some standardized number. This is further manipulated by using two of what they call "bend points", which serve to give lower-earning workers a higher proportion of their working income than is given to higher-earning workers.


Note that if you took your SS benefit at an age younger than your "Full Retirement Age" (FRA) then your benefit is reduced as well, the amount depends on how many years/months early you take it. It can be a pretty large reduction.



Your benefit can be independently calculated to confirm or verify the benefit you actually receive. There are calculators available on the SSA website (though they may not give you the calculation details). There are also free and pay-for calculators available on the internet, many of which will show the gory details of the calculation (I myself have used spreadsheets to check mine and I also use the free anypia32 software program published by the SSA).


To perform these double check calculations you will need a record of your earnings history. This history is available to you on the "My Social Security" account that Gail told you about.


My second cent:


Yes, some people are grumpy when you try to work with them. Maybe it's just their day to be grumpy or maybe they're grumpy all the time. Sometimes it's just the interaction between the two personalities that rubs one or the other or both the wrong way (I have been in a few such situations).


Fortunately, you can always call back and wait to get someone else. Although as it's possible that they keep a record of your SSN when you call this may not be viable too many times. It's best to try to educate yourself first on how the benefit is calculated and then if you still disagree make further investigations with the SSA.




A third cent:


Here are some sites that give some guidance on how the benefit is calculated:


If you still have questions on "how" the benefit is calculated, come back with further info and questions.



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Honored Social Butterfly

@sh58233857 wrote:

I called social security today and the agent was overly not being polite.


How do you handle such calls? What can one say during such a phone call? Any input would be appreciate. Social Security is an important topic and if there is poor communication about something that is major in your life, that's not good! Besides, I had to wait an hour to get a return call so I didn't want to have to wait another hour.



Maybe she wasn't having a good day -  There are all kinds of employees out there - some good, some not so much.


You called and got the 1st one that answered - you called her an "agent" - she was really Telephone Customer Service Representative - the lowest rung on the ladder.  Up the scale are Benefits Authorizers and better yet are Claims Specialist.


Have you set up a account?  Depending upon your circumstances, your question might be answered there - just by looking. 


IF not - and the question is important to you - the thing to do is to make an appointment with your Local Social Security office.     That way, you are face to face and they have the records right there - they also have supervisors that can help if they don't know the answer.  They can also tell you exactly what you might need to correct a (whatever) error, if one is found.


If a local office isn't close by, or you cannot get there - you still need to call the local office and see if an interview can be conducted over the phone to figure out the problem or to answer you questions.  Once the claims specialist knows what your concern is, they can either explain it or begin research and communicate with you by mail - if you have a mySocialSecurity account, you can see the communication online long before it gets to you by mail.


You can also write to them but that takes a long time.

Contacting Social Security :




It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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