Social Security has long understood that effective communication is the sine qua non of their organization and has therefore endeavored to ensure that they provide clear information to as much of the population as it possibly can. The agency reports that they have interpreter services available in more than two hundred languages.

A recent update by SSA states that you can request an interpreter by simply calling the national number 1-800-772-1213. In practice you are given the option to continue in English or Spanish (and the Spanish version appears to be spoken by someone with no working knowledge of the language). A native Serbo-Croatian speaker with limited English proficiency, for example, is required to remain silent through all the prompts until the system gives up and sends him to a representative. At that point our intrepid caller can request, in English or Spanish, to set up an appointment with someone who may be able to help them.

The option to request an interpreter is also available at your local SSA office. The representatives will set up an appointment for you to either return and meet with an interpreter, or for you to book a call with someone who speaks your language.

Further efforts to accommodate this multi-lingual nation come in the form of publications in twelve languages in addition to English and Spanish. Those publications can be accessed here: Languages | SSA Those translations also serve as an interesting learning tool for any non-native speaker. I may not be able to pronounce it correctly, but I can record that the Polish for Substantial Gainful Activity is apparently Znacząca działalność zarobkowa.