Great News For Social Security Disability Claimants & Others: Social Security to Resume In-Person Service, Even Without an Appointment, on April 7, 2022
UPDATED INFORMATION – APRIL 4, 2022:
Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, announced today the the SSA will resume in-person services at local Social Security Offices on Friday, April 7, 2022. The following is Commissioner Kijakazi’s verbatin statement:
“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022.
To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment. Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.
Customers who walk in without appointments may encounter delays and longer waits at our offices. Be aware that our offices tend to be the busiest first thing in the morning, early in the week, and during the early part of the month, so people may want to plan to visit at other times.
Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms. We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.
Thoughtful planning and preparation have shaped our process to restore in-person services. Social Security employees are dedicated to serving the public, and we are ready to welcome the public back to our offices. Our local managers understand and can address the needs of their communities. We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public. We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living and national advocate organizations for your help.
Throughout the pandemic, millions of people have used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone. People who have access to the internet should first try our online services before calling us or visiting an office.
As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call. We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month.
To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/gethelp/ and www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices/.”
Most Social Security services are available to the public online at www.socialsecurity.gov and with a my Social Security account, or by telephone. And most Social Security services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create their my Social Security account, a personalized online service, at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
People who set up their my Social Security account have access to additional personalized services. They can request a replacement Social Security card online if they meet certain requirements. If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, request a replacement SSA-1099, and if they need proof of their benefits, they can print or download a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.
People not yet receiving benefits can use their online account to get a personalized Social Security Statement, which provides their earnings information as well as estimates of their future benefits. The portal also includes a retirement calculator and links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.
Many Social Security services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1‑800‑772‑1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call Social Security’s TTY number, 1‑800‑325‑0778.
Here is our recent post:
The Social Security Administration is slowly returning to local office in-person services, which is welcome news for Social Security recipients, Social Security Disability claimants and others. These last two years have been long, very long. For those with disabilities who need Social Security benefits, it has been a particularly difficult time getting much needed assistance from field offices that were closed. Our office just received a notification from the Upper Darby, Pennsylvania office that it anticipates reopening the office for in-person services in April. There also will be “more in-person appointments and other face-to face services starting next month.”
Although many government service have been reopening, the Social Security Administration remained essentially closed for in-person services. The result was that countless people who needed help from an actual person to navigate the Social Security red tape because they do not have access to a computer or are simply unable to navigate the online system felt abandoned. As a result, applications for Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income dropped to record lows.
The Social Security Disability and SSI application process already was incredibly slow, potentially over two years between the time you apply for benefits and when you get a hearing. Although the Administration switched to doing those hearings by phone or video to keep applications moving, that format presents challenges as well. Most importantly, phone hearings raised the question: “Will the Judge fully comprehend your disability if he or she cannot see you in person?” After all, seeing is believing, and Social Security Administrative Law Judges are the jury for workers seeking disability benefits for which they have throughout their decades of working.
The good news is that it appears the reopening is finally underway. Our office continues to help individuals seeking Social Security Disability benefits and can assist you throughout the process — whether the Social Security offices are open or not. You can call our office at (610) 446-3457 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys. We will explain the process, guide you and fight to get and keep the benefits you need.