COVID-19 continues to guide the way we interact with government agencies. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offices remain closed to the public. It is unknown when they will fully reopen. It is important that we remember that SSA’s field and hearing offices have rather small public areas. These areas are often packed with vulnerable individuals. SSA is trying to develop procedures to protect its staff and the public.
SSA is encouraging the public to set up a personal “my Social Security” account. This will allow you to check your earnings record, eligibility for benefits, your current benefits and even get a replacement Social Security card. Go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ to set up an account. You can apply for most benefits online. You can also file an appeal if you are denied benefits. Remember to keep proof of any on-line transaction (even if it is just taking a picture with your smart phone). One of the projects SSA is developing for the field offices is a mobile app. The app will let you check in for an appointment on your smart phone from your car.
Social Security hearings are still being heard solely by telephone. But, SSA has plans to go to video hearings using Microsoft Teams. Unrepresented individuals with an email address have started to get their hearing record by secure email rather than on a disc. It is important to ask for the hearing record if you have a hearing scheduled and cannot get someone to represent you. This allows you to see the evidence SSA is using to deny or cut off your benefits.
SSA and its Inspector General is reminding the public to be on the alert for scams. Be very careful if you get an unwanted call from someone saying they are from the government. Do not give out personal information like your date of birth, social security number, place of birth, or mother’s maiden name. SSA will never call and threaten you with arrest or legal action, tell you that your social security number has been suspended, demand secrecy in handling a Social Security-related problem or ask for payment in exchange for services.
If you have any issues regarding your Social Security Benefits, you may apply for free legal services by calling the SCLS toll free number 888-346-5592 or apply online at https://sclegal.org/