Beginning March 17, 2020, all Social Security Administration offices across the United States are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. In these unprecedented times, here at Affleck & Gordon, we are adjusting to the new changes just as you are. We’ve compiled resources to help you navigate these uncertain times. We’re all in this together.
What SSA Services are Available Online?
The SSA administered a press release on March 16, 2020 explaining the office closures to insure the health and safety of both the public and SSA employees. All existing online functions are still available through ssa.gov. These include:
- Apply for retirement benefits
- Apply for disability benefits
- Apply for Medicare benefits
- Check the status of an application or appeal
- Request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas)
- Print a benefit verification letter
- Review your information and manage your account
What SSA Services are Available by Phone?
As libraries and other public access to the Internet are also now closed, you may not have the same access to the Internet as you had before. You may still perform many duties by calling your local Social Security Administration field office.
For Atlanta, the recommended phone number to call during the coronavirus is 866-931-9946.
By phone, your local field office can answer questions regarding your applications for benefits.
How do I Get Important Documents to the SSA?
Most people don’t have scanners or fax machines at home. If you have forms that need to be submitted in a timely manner and the office is still closed, you can download apps to your smartphone to help you.
Scannable is a free app for your smartphone that allows you to take pictures of documents and to send them to the appropriate place and works like a fax machine. It’s simple to use, and can be very helpful if you need to submit important documents and forms. You can then email the documents to your attorney or to the SSA.
CamScanner is another option, like Scannable, that allows you to scan, store, and send documents from your smartphone.
What about My Existing Appointments? Are They Cancelled?
If you have an appointment scheduled with the SSA, they will call you, if they haven’t already, to schedule a phone meeting with you instead. The call may come from a private number, so it’s in your best interest to answer your call so that you don’t miss your scheduled appointment. According to the SSA, employees cannot ask for money or threaten you in any way. If you receive a call that is in any way threatening or if the caller demands payments, you may be the target of an attempted scam.
If you feel you’re being scammed, hang up, and then report the call. Generally, employees call those who have recently applied for a benefit, are receiving payments and need to update records or have requested a call from the agency. Due to coronavirus and the office shutdowns, the SSA will be making calls more frequently. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, officials say, and report it to oig.ssa.gov.
Social Security employees will not:
- Tell you your number has been suspended.
- Demand immediate payment and ask for a credit or debit card number by phone.
- Demand you pay a debt without the ability to appeal it.
- Require a specific way to pay a debt, such as cash, a prepaid debit card or gift card.
If you cannot complete your Social Security business online or if you have additional questions, you can call the national number for the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). This number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A full list of automated telephone services is available online here.
If you have a hearing scheduled, most likely your attorney will alert you to any changes to your upcoming schedule. Most hearings are being rescheduled as video teleconferences (VTC), so it’s important that you understand how this may change how you should prepare for the hearing. You can read more about VTC hearings here.
Use Social Media as a Resource
The Social Security Administration is publishing press releases regularly as needed as information about the coronavirus continues to change daily. You can follow them on Twitter at @SSAPress. They are also on Facebook @socialsecurity. These resources are great ways to get quick information as the situation with coronavirus changes.
Do I Need an Attorney for my Disability Case?
The right disability lawyer can provide several advantages for you in your disability claim. First, a local disability attorney knows the administrative law judges, the clerks and staff, and the system in the local administrative courts. This local knowledge can give you a greater advantage than you may think. The local attorney understands what each judge is looking for. our local attorney will know these small differences, and these differences may result in a successful claim for disability benefits for you.
Keep in mind that seeking disability can be a long, drawn-out process. As things are changing rapidly with the onset of the coronavirus, your attorney can keep you up to speed with these changes as they occur. Having the right disability attorney on your team can give you peace of mind that you’re not missing any vital information. The right disability attorney will assist you at every step and will keep you informed as things potentially change.
You don’t have to navigate your Social Security disability claim alone. We are here to help our clients win the disability that they deserve, and we understand how stressful the process can be. We’ve helped over 40,000 people in Georgia receive disability, workers’ compensation, or Veterans disability for over 40 years. We’re here to help you, too.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 373-1649.