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Social Security Administration

Ssa’s Current Organization And Operations

A commissioner, who serves for a term of six years and is appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation, heads the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Social Security Administration has a staff of over 65,000 employees, with a central office located in Baltimore, Maryland. SSA relies on its decentralized field structure, including 10 regional offices, 1,340 field offices (FOs), 138 hearings offices, 36 teleservice centers, and 6 program service centers, to provide services at the local level. All components within SSA’s central office perform a supporting role to SSA FOs by providing uniform directions, guidance, and resources.

Regional offices oversee operations of the field offices within a specific geographic area and assist field offices with administrative tasks and operational issues. Field offices are located both in cities and rural areas across the nation and are the agency’s main physical point of contact with beneficiaries and the public. Field office employees explain the various Social Security programs and Medicare, discuss and review whether an applicant qualifies for benefits, and process claims for benefits. Field office staff also provides assistance in applying for other programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps.

If an individual’s initial request for benefits and first level of appeal for benefits are denied, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) is responsible for holding hearings and issuing decisions to determine whether or not an applicant may receive benefits. Most cases handled by OHA deal with Disability Insurance and SSI claims.

Teleservice centers answer calls to Social Security’s 800 number and provide answers to public inquires over the phone and referrals to other appropriate sources of information. Program service centers act as application processing centers for OASDI benefits. The data operations center maintains records of individuals’ earnings and prepares benefit computations.

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