As businesses and organizations reveal their plans amid the coronavirus outbreak, Social Security Administration has announced physical offices will closed for in-person meetings starting March 17.
The SSA said it made the decision as a means to protect “the population we serve — older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions — and our employees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” according to a Monday press release.
The SSA added that it will “still be able to provide critical services,” but anyone seeking aid will have to go through online or over-the-phone channels. The press release mentions online services through www.socialsecurity.gov, and agents will still be working in local offices to answer any phone calls.
Social Security provided benefits for around 64 million people in 2019, according to SSA data, and that number doesn’t only include retired workers. Over $18 billion in benefits were planned for over 16 million disabled workers, dependents and survivors receiving benefits from deceased relatives. That’s a lot of customers that may have unresolved issues.
The SSA gave some guidelines for anyone who needs to resolve an issue, per the press release:
- First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at 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.
- If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.
For anyone who already has a scheduled appointment at a local office, the SSA says it will contact you to conduct the appointment over the phone instead. Anyone with a scheduled hearing will be contacted to discuss alternatives, including a possible hearing over the phone.
The administration added that the call may come from a “PRIVATE” number, and not from a U.S. Government phone.
“Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment,” the press release said.
Social Security has faced an influx of scams over the last year, with con artists impersonating SSA officers over phone and email in an effort to steal personal information from innocent beneficiaries.
Lastly, the SSA included options for anyone who cannot complete their business online.
- If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.
Closing Social Security offices probably wasn’t an easy call to make, but it seems like the SSA has made an effort to do everything it can to continue providing services to its beneficiaries.
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