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800 number performance

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We typically get 80 million calls each year to our national 800 phone number. People call for help with all types of Social Security benefits and services, like updating their personal record and requesting a new card.

The SecurityStat process

  • Set a strategic goal.

    Answer calls within an average of 12 minutes by the end of fiscal year 2025 while increasing the percentage of calls answered.

  • Drive leading actions.

    • Lower the number of calls to the 800 number by:
      • Making recorded messages clearer so fewer people need to talk to a representative.
      • Solving problems in 1 call so people don't need to call back.
    • Survey teleservice center managers for ideas and collaborate with leadership to meet goals.
  • Track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) over time.

    • Average speed of answer
    • Percentage of callers that reach a representative

Average speed of answer

7-year trend

Line chart showing the average minutes to reach a representative on our national 800 number over the past seven fiscal years has increased by about twenty-two minutes. Starting with over thirteen minutes in 2017 to nearly thirty-six minutes in 2023.

This chart shows the average number of minutes customers waited to reach a representative in each of the past 7 fiscal years. The average speed of answer does not include dropped calls and busy signals. The wait time increased by about 22 minutes between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2023. We experienced challenges in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 due to telephone agent attrition and delays transitioning to a new telephone system platform. Although we did hire agents in fiscal year 2023, it takes time for new agents to learn the full scope of their job. Improving the time it takes a representative to answer the phone on our national 800 phone number is also an Agency Priority Goal. View our action plan and quarterly updates at performance.gov.

October 2023 to Present

Line chart showing the average minutes to reach a representative on our national 800 number. The average increased in November by nearly three minutes and then steadily reduces each month that follows.  On average, customers waited 24 minutes in April.

This chart shows the average number of minutes customers waited to reach a representative for each month of the current fiscal year.

Percentage of callers that reach a representative

7-year trend

Line chart showing the percentage of callers that reach a representative on our national 800 number over the past seven fiscal years. The general trend has been at or near 50% with spikes of nearly 60% in both 2017 and 2020, and 64% in 2021.

This chart shows the percentage of callers that reach a representative, also known as the “answer rate,” over each of the past 7 fiscal years. Callers might not reach a representative because of technical difficulties on our end, or they might hang up due to long wait times. The answer rate decreased by 11 percentage points from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2023. In fiscal year 2021, while operating on the CARE 800 Number Platform, we were able to largely eliminate callers experiencing a busy signal and allow nearly all calls to enter the platform. In fiscal year 2022, we transitioned to an interim phone infrastructure that proved to be unstable, causing repeated outages and prevented us from answering as many calls as we did in fiscal year 2021. Telephone agent attrition and hiring challenges also impacted agent productivity in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

October 2023 to Present

Line chart showing the percentage of callers that reach a representative on our national 800 number increasing almost 6% in fiscal year 2024. The percentage has grown steadily from 47% in October to nearly 64% in April.

This chart shows the percentage of callers that reach a representative, also known as the “answer rate,” for each month of the current fiscal year. 

Last updated on May 3, 2024.