WHAT IF I NEED AN INTERPRETER?

SSA is committed to providing access to the programs we administer regardless of an individual’s ability to communicate with us in English. 

We will provide you with an interpreter free of charge if you request language assistance or when it is evident that such assistance is necessary to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

You are not required to provide your own interpreter. If you prefer to use your own interpreter, we will determine whether the interpreter meets our requirements.

For in–office interviews, we use the interpreter poster (see attachment), which explains our interpreter policy in many languages and may be helpful in identifying the individual's preferred language.

For public information materials translated into several languages, you can visit our multi–language website at www.socialsecurity.gov/multilanguage.

We provide free interpreter services to help you conduct your Social Security business. These interpreter services are available whether you talk to us by phone or in the Social Security office.

Call our toll–free number, 1–800–772–1213. If you speak Spanish press 2. For all other languages, press 1 and stay on the line until a representative answers. An interpreter will be contacted to help with your call.

If your business cannot be completed by phone, we will make an appointment for you at a local Social Security office and arrange for an interpreter to be available at the time of your visit. .

spotlight

WHO CAN PROVIDE INTERPRETER SERVICES?

We will not use minors as interpreters in dealing with complex or sensitive matters, unless it is clear that they also meet the requirements of a qualified interpreter. We require that your interpreter be an individual who:

    small blue and black arrowis able to read, write, and speak fluently in English and your language or dialect;
    small blue and black arrowagrees to comply with our disclosure and confidentiality of information requirements;
    small blue and black arrow agrees to provide an exact interpretation of questions and responses by both you and the Social Security interviewer; that is does not self–initiate follow–up questions or infer facts or dates not provided by you or the Social Security interviewer;
    small blue and black arrowdemonstrates familiarity with basic terminology used in our materials and interviews; and
    small blue and black arrowhas no personal stake in the outcome of the case that would create a conflict of interest.

WHAT IF SOCIAL SECURITY BELIEVES THAT THE INTERPRETER IS NOT QUALIFIED?

If we believe that your interpreter is not qualified, we will:

    small blue and black arrowexplain to you that we will provide free interpreter service to ensure you are not disadvantaged; and
    small blue and black arrowoffer to continue the interview, but only with the additional assistance of an interpreter Social Security provides.

If the services of a telephone interpreter would be suitable, we will call a telephone interpreter service before we continue the interview.

If the services of a qualified in–office interpreter are necessary, we will:

    small blue and black arrowstop the interview;
    small blue and black arrowreschedule the appointment when we can provide a reliable interpreter;
    small blue and black arrowdocument the file giving the reason the interview was stopped; and
    small blue and black arrowprotect your filing date, if necessary.

Interpreter Poster

Attachment

(When using this spotlight as a handout, please print the attached poster separately from the spotlight. The poster is in pdf format (647 KB), and you will need Acrobat Readerblank spaceObtain Acrobat Reader to view it or print it out.)


THIS INFORMATION IS GENERAL.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL 1–800–772–1213 (TTY 1–800–325–0778),
VISIT OUR WEBSITE (www.socialsecurity.gov) ON THE INTERNET,
OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE.