Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is allowing limited access to their services via appointment-only visits and online assessability to check on your benefits or order a replacement Social Security card, by setting up and using your personal My Social Security account online. You can use this account to arrange for direct deposit of your benefits, to change your address or phone number, or to get other kinds of help.
As outlined in an Oct. 22 update to the SSA’s online COVID-19 page, “members of the public can now seek to schedule office visits for “dire-need situations” that cannot be resolved online or by phone.”
*The agency has not yet announced a date for when field offices might reopen for full service.*
Appointments for ‘dire need’
The SSA defines ‘dire need’ as:
- You are without food or shelter, utilities, or medical care, or coverage and need to apply for or reinstate benefits.
- You receive benefits and have an urgent need for payment to meet expenses for food, shelter, or medical treatment, and you cannot receive the payment electronically.
- In these situations, you can call your local office to inquire whether you qualify for an in-person visit. The SSA cautions that “appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.”
Masks are required for in-person visits to Social Security sites. The office will provide a mask if you do not have one.
Visitors must attest that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough or sore throat, difficulty breathing, or new loss of taste or smell.
They must also affirm that within the previous 14 days, they:
- have not been diagnosed, or been within 6 feet of someone who has been diagnosed, with COVID-19;
- have not been instructed to monitor for symptoms or self-quarantine;
- and have not traveled outside the country.
Hearing offices closed
Hearing offices that normally host proceedings when someone appeals a denied claim for Social Security disability benefits remain closed.
The SSA is holding such hearings by telephone and says it expects to introduce online video hearings later in the fall. Telephone hearings are not mandatory; claimants can elect to postpone their hearing until another option is available.
The Social Security website has a page with detailed information on hearing options during the pandemic.
Have more questions?
Feel free to call Social Security’s toll-free helpline, 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778), or contact your local field office for routine services or answers to Social Security questions.