Information about the Social Security and OASDI Program

If you’re thinking about retirement or you’re a new worker paying Social Security taxes for the first time, you may want to know about the federal agency that administers Social Security and the Old Age, Survivor, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs.

Social Security Administration, frequently referred to as SSA, is the administrator of these programs. SSA’s main office is in Baltimore, Maryland. Most senior administrators and data operations are managed at the Baltimore headquarters.

Social Security Administration Role

SSA is considered an independent federal agency within the executive branch of the U.S. government. SSA’s role is an administrative one. It administers and oversees retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and disability benefits (SSDI) paid by Social Security to insured persons and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits paid to uninsured disabled persons.

Social Security Administration’s Commissioner is appointed by the U.S. President. The Senator must approve the appointment. Each SSA Commissioner is expected to serve a six-year term.

SSA Offers Online Services

It’s possible to access SSA online services by going to the agency website at In the past, it was necessary to visit a local SSA field office or request information by mail.

You can now review your Social Security Statement, apply for Social Security benefits, learn about how to qualify for benefits, or appeal a decision about your benefits. If you’re thinking about claiming Social Security benefits for which you’re eligible, you may also use the site to estimate future benefits.

Visit a Local SSA Field Office

There are some times when visiting a local Social Security field office can save you time and effort in the long run. Although you can download and fill out the application for an initial Social Security number online, you’ll probably want to visit the local SSA office to show original documents required to get your card. Other circumstances in which you’ll need to visit a local Social Security office include:

  • Requesting disability insurance if you’re insured (SSDI), such as for black lung benefits
  • Asking for help with SNAP! Food stamps program or coordinating a TANF application and a Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI) or SSDI application
  • Discuss your personal or family rights and/or obligations concerning Social Security payments and benefits under the law.
  • Your local SSA field office can also help you apply for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) or Part B (medical insurance) if you’re in search of information about these programs.
  • If you’re concerned about living too far away from a local SSA field office, get SSA assistance by telephone first. It’s possible in some cases for SSA to serve you if a local office is too far away. SSA visits occur at SSA “contact stations.” If you have questions about making arrangements to visit with an SSA representative at a contact station, call SSA to ask for this assistance.

Get SSA Assistance by Telephone

It’s also possible to use the phone to get information or to make decisions about your next steps where Social Security benefits of all kinds are concerned. SSA’s toll-free generation information line 1-800-772-1213 is open from 7:00 a.m. EST to 7:00 p.m. on business days. Use a touch-tone telephone to use the menu or request assistance on the TTY helpline at 1-800-325-0778 if you’re deaf/hard-of-hearing.

SSA Regional Offices

SSA’s regional offices are found in most major cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and Kansas City. Local SSA field offices are quite plentiful—there are more than 1,400 SSA field offices in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.

SSA field offices are there to interact on a person-to-person basis with Social Security-insured individuals, survivors, and dependents. SSA field offices are also there to help people in need of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to disability. Each SSA office has direct phone and fax information but, if you’re in doubt about how to contact your local field office, just call the general Social Security help line at 1-800-772-1213 to get the information or help you need. Alternatively, get online services at the Social Security website by visiting

SSA Hearings & Appeals Program

SSA’s Office of Hearings & Appeals Program, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, oversees hearings and appeals around the country for the agency. Administrative law judges (ALJs) are located in most major cities around the country. If necessary, the SSA Hearings & Appeals Program requests an ALJ to travel for the purposes of administering a hearing and appeal to make a determination regarding a beneficiary’s rights to Social Security benefits under the Social Security Act.