What to do Now That Social Security Offices Are Closed

Mar 24, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

As of Tuesday, March 17, all Social Security offices are closed to the public for in-person services. As the Social Security Administration press release states, “This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during hte COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.” Read on for how you can access support.

Most importantly, know that all payments will continue to go out. They are automated and will not be affected by teleworking. Do not fall prey to scams that claim benefits will be suspended as a result of COVID-19.

If you need help from Social Security, the first place to go is www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more—from anywhere and from any of your devices. They also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone.

Field offices will only offer in-person assistance on a very short list of crucial services. These include reinstatement of benefits in dire circumstances; assistance to people with severe disabilities, blindness or terminal illnesses; and people in dire need of eligibility decisions for Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid eligibility related to work status. Those seeking these services must call in advance. Check the online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact the local office.

If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, call 1-800-772-1213. There are many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. At the best of times calls to the national hotline can expect long wait times, so SSA asks callers to be patient. Phone representatives will be focusing on urgent requests, such as missed benefit payments, address and direct-deposit changes, and scheduling phone appointments.

If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, they will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, they will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. Scams are a real concern, especially as the call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Remember that SSA employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.

You can find even more information in this New York Times article.

 

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