Social Security Administration
(Customer Service Representative)
One of Social Security’s cornerstone positions, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) provides a full range of assistance to beneficiaries, recipients, and the public, by telephone, in person, by correspondence, and/or through digital media, regarding all programs administered by the agency, using a wide variety of systems tools and applications. The position may be located in multiple components throughout the Operations structure, including Field Offices (FOs), Program Service Centers (PSCs), Foreign Service Posts (FSPs), Workload Service Centers (WSCs), Workload Support Units (WSUs), Teleservice Centers (TSCs) and the Office of Central Operations (OCO) Processing Centers (PCs). Performs duties involved in one or more of the following: a service representative in an FO, a teleservice representative in a TSC, a customer service technician in a PSC or OCO or a combination of the above. The incumbent will perform the duties below as it relates to his or her assigned area.
- Interviews beneficiaries, their representatives, and/or the public or responds to their calls and inquiries. Determines the nature of their problem or interest. Explains technical provisions of SSA programs, elicits relevant facts and resolves problems with payments or eligibility. Provides beneficiaries with information about eligibility and benefits being paid under all programs administered by SSA. Screens for all possible entitlement to benefits. Furnishes information to the public about work incentive provisions, compliance with the various beneficiary reporting requirements and submitting appropriate reports to continue, suspend or terminate monthly payments. Explains basis for decisions and appeal rights when inquirers question determinations or decisions. As needed, informs inquirers of different methods of filing a claim. Advises inquirers about filing for benefits online. Offers online services, or schedules phone or in-office appointments. Explains and promotes the agency’s online and automated services.
- Processes Title 2 and/or assigned Title 16 post entitlement workloads using appropriate automation tools and systems inputs. Initiates contacts with beneficiaries or others to obtain reports and clarify inconsistent or incomplete reports. Reviews pertinent material and related folders or electronic records, resolves conflicting statements, evidence and information, and provides full explanations of actions taken or to be taken, citing significant facts on which decisions are based. Investigates and resolves systems-identified discrepancies and questionable situations, such as death alert and centenarian inquiries. Identifies and controls double check negotiations. Makes routine and complex systems inputs to correct or change records of entitlement and eligibility. As assigned, develops and resolves discrepancies in earnings and determines amounts to be posted and/or removed from individual earning records. Advises inquirers about filing for My Social Security Accounts online for direct access to certain post entitlement actions and available information. Completes Registration Customer Support (RCS), when appropriate, and provides guidance and support in completing and maintaining My Social Security Accounts (My SSA).
- Researches case situations and reconciles discrepancies causing interruption in the receipt of Title 2 and Title 16 monthly benefits. Identifies and explains discrepancies in payment amounts which may be caused by garnishments, offset, automatic earnings adjustments, and recomputations. Decides when critical payment procedures should be used in sensitive or dire need situations. Checks for outstanding overpayment and Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) withholding, computes any underpayment due, determines payment amount, completes documentation, initiates input(s), and authorizes payment or makes referral, as delegated.
- Screens inquiries on Title 2 and Title 16 overpayments/offsets and resolves them by recovery, waiver and/or determination that the overpayment did not exist or is uncollectible. Assists inquirers or callers with request for waivers and completion of forms. In Title 2 and Title 16 cases, initiates and processes Requests for Administrative Waiver. In Title 16 cases, processes Requests for Waiver and Recovery Questionnaires. In both Title 2 and Title 16 cases verifies allegations as necessary. Determines if waiver provisions are met, or if a reconsideration is appropriate. Documents files and issues relevant notices or refers subsequent action to field office (FO) Claims Representative, as appropriate.
- Answers questions and resolves problems concerning Medicare eligibility and premium payments, including Parts A, B, C and D. Explains provisions and options for Part D, as well as the process for obtaining “extra help” administered by the agency and the impact of earnings on Medicare premiums, including the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) provisions. Processes Medicare enrollments appropriately, answers questions and resolves problems concerning Medicare premium payments. Determines corrective action necessary to resolve Hospital Insurance/Supplemental Medical Insurance (HI/SMI) entitlement, premium collection and other benefit entitlement and payment status problems, and takes appropriate action.
- Responds to inquiries regarding Social Security numbers (SSN’s,) replacement cards, corrected cards and the actions needed for newborns, adoptions, and aliens. As assigned, processes all SSN applications, while maintaining the integrity of enumeration.
- Recognizes when a representative payee is needed or should be considered. Makes appropriate referral or, if assigned evaluates the qualifications of prospective candidates, assesses capability, selects the preferred payee, and, at specified intervals, reassesses the continuing suitability of current payees. As assigned, initiates contact and resolves discrepancies with the beneficiary’s representative or the field office on representative payee accounting reports covering both Title 2 and Title 16 of the Act. May initiate development in potential misuse cases and make appropriate referrals to higher graded employees and/or management.
- Completes Title 16 abbreviated applications, making determination of ineligibility to Title 16 benefits when the reason for the denial is clear. Considers all nonmedical eligibility requirements including all possible exclusions to income and resources before denying claims. Documents the reason for denial, makes system inputs and issues appropriate notices.
- Is sensitive to the needs of customers with disabilities by offering special notice options for the visually impaired or blind or handling operator assisted relay calls for the hearing impaired. In identifying language barriers, elicits assistance via Tele-interpreter services to assist customers speaking foreign languages in handling Social Security business.
- Promotes, ensures and complies with security measures in all areas for which incumbent has responsibilities, including the integrity of information obtained through electronic access to the Agency’s computer databases. Properly safeguards personally identifiable information (PII) from loss, theft or improper disclosure including inadvertent disclosure. Immediately notifies management of any breach, loss or potential loss of PII in any form.
- Given the wide range of issues and contacts, the incumbent is a key position to identify:
- Potential fraud issues on cases such as enumeration, SSN misuse, MySSA, auto enroll fraud, representative payee misuse and scrambled earnings. May initiate development and refer the case to management. Prepares fraud referrals to OIG.
- The need for social services and makes appropriate referrals to private, nonprofit or government organizations supplying such services. Handles Medicaid eligibility questions and makes referrals, as appropriate.
- Situations with public affairs implications, or issues of such complexity or magnitude as to warrant referral and refers them to superiors or other organizational components.
- Participates in training sessions as a student and as an instructor. Provides technical assistance to others and may serve as a mentor to other employees.
- As assigned, performs one or more of the following tasks:
- Assists in the processing of requests for appeals of disability determinations for Title 2 and Title 16 claimants;
- Initiates and controls actions necessary to recover incorrect payments made after a payee or beneficiary’s death. Responds to inquiries from financial organizations and resolves problems involving Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payments;
- Serves as the office remittance clerk, processing payments and returned benefit checks received in the office using the appropriate automated system;
- Performs cashier duties using the appropriate system for the payment of certain programmatic payments and administrative expenses;
- Accepts requests to start or stop voluntary tax withholding and explains the withholding rates set by Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Processes the completed W-4V form.
- Ensure paper items are properly recorded both electronically and in a timely manner.
- Answers questions and provides assistance with Rep Payee Accounting form, disability eWork reports, Continuing Disability reports, SSA-1099 inquiries, Foreign Enforcement suspensions and reinstatements, and/or changes in income for Title 16 recipients, deemors and non-deemors.
- Participates in special studies by tracking and reporting on specific call types or call characteristics.
- IN WBDOC ONLY— Performs a variety of functions including extracting, analyzing and investigating the front-end process of various WBDOC workloads.
- Performs other duties as assigned and assumes new responsibilities mandated by legislative or policy changes.
Factor 1: Knowledge Required by the Job
- Comprehensive knowledge of the law, regulations, policies, procedures, processes of related agencies (Railroad Retirement Board, Treasury, etc.) and online services applicable to SSN issuance and to each type of benefit payable (Title 2, Title 16, Medicare.) Uses knowledge to respond to questions, to guide beneficiaries and the public, to resolve claims and complex post entitlement issues, or to make appropriate referrals, when necessary.
- Knowledge of the agency’s online, off-line, web, video, phone, and automated services to assist inquirers and beneficiaries who encounter problems with these services, to determine status, payment history, research information, or make inputs to resolve or process a wide variety of claims and post entitlement actions and to promote the effective use of these services, while ensuring the security and integrity of SSA’s program and information systems.
- Displays the required skill of using the customer’s chosen means of communication to interact with inquirers and agency customers, including face-to-face, phones, video, computers, and in writing. Handles a wide range of inquirers, with differing levels of program knowledge and temperaments, using compassion and understanding to provide them with excellent service, and accurate, useful information to meet their needs.
- Knowledge of other SSA organizations, other Federal and state agencies, the services provided by private, nonprofit and governmental agencies serving the community and their functions to provide status of pending claims, to schedule appointments, or to refer inquiries and further actions to the proper place.
- As assigned, comprehensive knowledge of, and skill in the effective use of the Customer Help Information Program (CHIP) system to respond to calls in an accurate, quick and consistent manner nationwide, and to provide inquirers with their community’s social and medical services provided by private, nonprofit and governmental agencies, as well as the Medicare, Medicaid and private medical insurance programs.
- Ability to organize, prioritize, and be flexible by adapting to changes in policy, procedures and technology, by identifying issues, performing work as accurately, timely, and efficiently as possible, while maintaining a balanced workload.
- Ability to multitask by completing the following actions during an interaction with an inquirer: listening to a person, researching, reading and interpreting information, navigating multiple SSA systems and applications, organizing, prioritizing and processing the results of the data gathering, and communicating the information to the inquirer.
- Skill in using automation tools, including a computer/laptop, the Inter/Intranet, the Windows operating system, and various commercial software packages, to apply and navigate the expert systems, electronic storage and retrieval, SSA programs, and web pages to serve the inquirers and process daily work.
- Skill in listening and communicating orally to handle a variety of sensitive interviews and to convey program information to people from all backgrounds, with respect and courtesy. If needed, has familiarity with available American Sign Language tools and foreign language interpreter services.
- Skill in written communication to obtain and provide information and data in a written product, which is clear and concise, and to communicate succinctly and courteously to an inquirer or other components actions or situations requiring resolution.
Factor 2: Supervisory Controls
The incumbent works under the general supervision of a supervisor or manager. Decisions are made independently, although the supervisor and, if assigned, a Technical Expert/Technical Assistant/Lead Technician, is available to assist with unique situations. The incumbent carries out the work, handling most problems and unusual situations in accordance with policies. The supervisor or lead technician evaluates the work through general and service observation, spot-checking the work for accuracy.
Factor 3: Guidelines
Due to SSA’s diverse social insurance and assistance programs, the incumbent uses a vast range of established program guidelines. These include the Policynet, Administrative Directives, other oral/written/electronic administrative and technical guidelines, and CHIP and the TSC Operating Guide (TSCOG), if assigned. Sound judgment is necessary in locating and selecting appropriate guidelines, references and procedures for application to specific cases.
Factor 4: Complexity
Assignments require the incumbent to perform complex, varied, non-standardized tasks requiring application of laws, regulations, policies, and procedures and to use a complex body of specialized subject matter knowledge.
CSRs are required to explain various alternatives available to the inquirer and communicate Social Security’s policies and procedures in a clear and consistent manner. A diverse population of public contacts representing varied cultures, races, ethnicities, education, values, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds complicates this requirement. The information/processes shared with the inquirer may require the incumbent to handle dissatisfied claimants/beneficiaries, which complicates the information shared, etc. Assignments involve providing information and making decisions on a variety of claims and/or post entitlement matters in sensitive situations.
If assigned to a call center or similar facility, the incumbent faces additional challenges:
- The incumbent must be available to respond to continuous calls for extended periods with only a few structured breaks and lunch;
- Callers phone from anywhere in the country and are unscreened; and
- The inquirers run the gamut of emotional states from scared, upset and belligerent to confused, uncertain, reluctant, and unprepared, to calm and organized.
Despite these obstacles, the incumbent is expected to interview effectively to ascertain the nature of the contact’s issue(s); secure accurate information in a courteous and efficient manner; navigate a sophisticated help and information system; and use other automated tools to obtain information relevant to the case The incumbent must explain various alternatives open to the claimant and advise on the most appropriate course of action.
Factor 5: Scope and Effect
The work performed directly impacts the entitlement rights and monthly payments to members of the public and beneficiaries, who may be very dependent on the receipt of benefits. The work contributes to the proper payments of benefits. The work can also affect the selection of payees, approval or denial of overpayment waivers or penalties, reimbursement of medical treatment, Medicare premiums, and denial of Title 16 benefits. Completed work ensures accurate information provided to inquirers, uninterrupted monthly payments, and correct waivers of penalty payments, as well as referral of contacts to online self-help applications and to other SSA organizations for efficient processing of claims and post entitlement actions. Overall, the work affects the agency’s effectiveness in meeting the needs of the public and preserving the public’s trust in the programs administered by SSA.
Factor 6: Personal Contacts
Contacts are with beneficiaries and the public, by telephone, in person, or through the Internet, video, or other electronic methods. By the design of the SSA 800 number system, callers are routed to the first available CSR nationwide, are unscreened, and can be from any part of the nation. Contacts are also with co‑workers in the office, other SSA offices, or outside the U.S, and various entities outside SSA including other government agencies, social welfare agencies, and financial institutions.
Factor 7: Purpose of Contacts
Contacts are to explain and interpret laws, regulations, policies and procedures applicable to the individual’s situation. Persons contacted may be anxious, uncooperative, irate, mentally impaired, or confused requiring the incumbent to use tact and diplomacy efficiently to persuade and motivate the individual to achieve the desired results. Infrequently, contacts may involve threats of suicide or other violence.
Factor 8: Physical Demands
The work is primarily sedentary but can be physically challenging. If assigned to a call center or similar facility, the incumbent must remain at the ergonomic workstation, connected to the network, focused on each call while answering the calls in succession, from a wide range of callers.
Factor 9: Work Environment
The work is performed in an office setting with no unusual environmental stress.
If interested, please contact Nicholas Turner at NTurner@haul.org for more information on how to apply!
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