Published on: September 2, 2020
Every since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the routines of millions of people and businesses. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can count itself as one such organization that had to restructure daily operations to keep applicants and employees safe. Changes, including telephone hearings and closed offices, were made among other adjustments to normal operations.
Since then, the SSA has recent COVID-19 updates to keep everyone aware of any changes. Here are some of the top COVID-19 and SSA questions answered:
Are SSA Offices Still Closed? If So, Until When?
When COVID-19 broke out in the United States, the SSA was part of the wave of organizations and businesses that went on lockdown and closed all in-person meetings to prevent the spread. Currently, all SSA offices are still closed indefinitely.
However, you can still communicate with your local hearing office. Hearing office employees will be available to answer your questions during normal business hours by phone. The SSA recommends submitting information to the hearing offices through either:
- Appointed Representative Services/Electronic Records Express,
- Fax and e-Fax, or
- “Contact OHO” email.
The SSA provides more information about each method on its COVID-19 update site.
What New Social Security Scam Calls Should I Be Aware Of?
Social Security scams have always been common and can take many different disguises. For example, the Federal Trade Commission reported that more than 92,000 people reported losing $173 million to Social Security phishing scams in 2018 alone.
The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic only increased the number of scammers trying to take advantage of people. Since then, scams have evolved. A good rule of thumb is to ignore any calls, emails, or other forms of communication claiming to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, the SSA, the IRS, or any other government agency offering COVID-19 assistance or help in exchange for personal information. These are all scams.
The SSA acknowledges three times of scams that have been circulating recently. They have been listed on their website:
- Fraudulent letters threatening the suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 related office closures. This is not true; while SSA offices are closed to the public for in-person appointments and services due to COVID-19, benefits will continue and not be suspended.
- Scammers are offering Medicare recipients COVID-19 tests in return for personal information. These are illegitimate scams and should be avoided.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has become aware of various scams relating to COVID-19. These are ranging from government imposter scams to Economic Impact Payments fraud, among other things. Learn more about the latest Social Security scam calls here.
Remember to report any suspicious activity or scam calls related to COVID-19 to the FTC so scammers can be stopped!
What Safety Precautions Should I Follow If I Visit A Social Security Office?
You may have a scheduled appointment to enter an SSA office generally closed to an appointment. If so, it’s important to remember that only you are allowed to enter the office. As of any date after July 20, 2020, every person entering an SSA office must complete a self-assessment checklist first before being allowed entry.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will not be allowed to enter the SSA office.
- Do you have any of the following symptoms?
- Cough or sore throat;
- Fever (100.4 degrees or higher);
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
- Muscle pain or body aches;
- New loss of taste or smell; or
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- In the last 14 days, have you:
- Been diagnosed with COVID-19?
- Received instructions to monitor for symptoms or self-quarantine?
- Traveled outside the country? or
- Been within 6 feet of a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you answer yes to any of these questions and are not allowed in the office, you will have to reschedule your appointment. Even if you are permitted to enter, you will be required to wear a face mask at any time you are within the SSA office.
What If I Need New Or Replacement Social Security Card?
Your Social Security Number (SSN) card is vital since it allows you to collect Social Security disability benefits, services, or even hold a job. Although you do not need the physical SSN card for most of these services, it’s still important to have your card on hand.
If you critically need a new SSN card, your SSA office will reschedule an in-person appointment for a new card request. To contact your local office to see if you are eligible for an in-person appointment, please look for the local office telephone number at Social Security Office Locator.
For a replacement card request, you may be able to request one online. If you are unable to do so, call your local SSA office to mail you an SSN printout in lieu of a replacement Social Security card. At this time right now, replacement Social Security cards cannot be issued over the phone.
If you would like more information about the SSA’s COVID-19 updates, be sure to check out its website. And, if you need help navigating Social Security disability benefits during the COVID-19 crisis or thinking about applying, then the team at Disability Experts of Florida is here to help! Reach out and let us know what you need help with.