Today’s question came to us through Facebook and we feel that it addresses a very important subject—accessibility. For individuals who or deaf or hearing impaired, it can be extremely stressful to communicate without the proper accommodations. We hope that the following blog post will make applicants with hearing impairments more comfortable with the process knowing that the Social Security Administration works hard to meet their needs.
Today’s question is:
How can I communicate with Social Security Disability officials if I'm deaf?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has many provisions in place to ensure accessibility throughout online and in-person services. These will allow you to communicate effectively with the representatives and officials involved in the Social Security Disability (SSD) application and review processes. These accommodations include:
Accessibility to Online Resources
All videos produced by the SSA offer closed captioning for the hearing impaired. Nearly all video and audio information provided by the SSA is also offered in a transcribed format on the SSA’s website to allow for all-inclusive accessibility.
Calling the SSA
Any questions that you have throughout the application process can be answered by calling the SSA’s main phone number-- 7 a.m. through 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. The toll free TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. This number is the main helpline for the SSA, and can be used as a starting point to contact any SSA official or representative with which you need to speak. Some automated services are also available 24 hours a day via this line.
Completing Your Initial Application
You can complete your SSD application online via the SSA’s website, which would require no direct communication with the SSA or their representatives.
If you prefer to apply in person, you can make an appointment to complete your application at your local Social Security office with the assistance of an SSA representative and a sign language interpreter, if necessary. The SSA will hire an interpreter to appear at your appointment if you put in a request ahead of time. You are also allowed to use your own interpreter, provided that this person is over the age of 18.
To schedule your appointment and request reasonable accommodation, call the main TTY line at 1-800-325-0778 during standard business hours.
For all Subsequent Appointments
After initiating your claim for SSD benefits with the SSA, it will be prominently displayed in your claim file that you are deaf and need certain accommodations.
To ensure that all future appointments and communications run smoothly, contact a representative early on in the process to request that accommodations be made for all subsequent appointments. The SSA allows communication through writing and hand written notes. They also offer sign language interpreters and lip reading and speech reading services.
If at any point throughout the application process you feel that your needs are not being met, call the SSA and let them know. They will do their best to make sure you can communicate with the necessary officials.
Feel free to leave your Social Security Disability questions in the comment section below and we may answer them in a future blog post.
Submitted By: Molly Clarke