Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits
During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
In this article our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys discuss the ins-and-outs of navigating the Social Security Administration during these challenging times.
The good news is that, at this time, all Social Security Benefit payments are continuing to be paid as scheduled. However, all local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are currently closed for in-person appointments. But, new applications are being processed. And, there are a number of ways you can still get help with your Social Security case, including calling our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys for a phone consultation.
Social Security During Covid-19: What’s Open and What’s Closed
All local Social Security offices were closed to the public for in-person appointments effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
The National SSA call number is still open, but there is typically not enough SSA employees available to handle the call volume. So, wait times are very long and you may not even be able to get through.
Information, requests, and some services, however, can be obtained online HERE or, using the automated telephone services on the national call number that are available 24 hours. See a list of all available automated service HERE.
SSA National Call Line: 1-800-772-1213 (Hours reduced from 7 am to 7 pm to 8 am to 5:30 pm during Covid-19)
If you are unable to use the automated phone services or online services, and cannot get through on the main number, you can also try calling call your local Social Security Field Office. Most local offices are still staffed, but there are no in-person appointments, and phone wait times may be much longer than usual. Local offices are giving priority at this time to the most severe cases.
Unfortunately, Social Security no longer publishes the phone numbers of most local offices. And they have taken down their online Field Office Locator during the pandemic to reduce the influx of calls. However, if you have a local field office number saved from previous correspondence or communications, you may try to call that number.
Already Scheduled In Person Social Security Appointments
If you already had a scheduled appointment with your local Social Security Field Office, an employee from that office will attempt to call you at your scheduled appointment time.
Make sure you are available at the number that you gave them to have on file. Missing your previously scheduled appointment will further delay your Social Security case indefinitely.
Social Security Deadlines and Hearings During Covid-19
The Social Security Administration is extending its deadlines wherever possible.
If you had a Social Security hearing already previously scheduled, you (or your attorney or representative) will be contacted by telephone and offered a telephone hearing. You are allowed to postpone your hearing until in-person hearings resume. However, in most cases – absent extenuating circumstances – our Social Security attorneys suggest that you accept the phone hearing – rather than risking further substantial delays to your case.
In most cases, your telephone hearing will be held on the same day and time as the originally scheduled in-person hearing. So, be sure to still be available, and reachable by the telephone number that the SSA has on file for you.
Be advised that our attorneys have seen cases where the SSA Hearing call comes from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Pick up ANY number that comes in at your scheduled hearing time. But remember: an SSA employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment over the phone. So be careful of any potential scam calls that claim to be Social Security Administration employees – especially at unscheduled times.
Our Social Security attorneys can and will be available to represent you in your phone hearing, if prior arrangements are made by calling our office.
New Applications for Social Security During Covid-19
The SSA is continuing to process new applications – which may be filed online. The staff in local field offices is still available by phone to assist with new applications for cases involving the severe disabilities, IF you can get through.
Our Social Security attorneys are also available during this difficult time to file new Social Security applications for you.
Does My “Stimulus Check” Affect my Social Security Benefits?
The SSA has stated on its website that they will not consider the economic impact payments (“stimulus checks”) as income for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.
Social Security or SSI Overpayments During Covid-19
In most cases, the SSA is temporarily suspending the collection of new overpayments during the pandemic. However, remember, this does not mean that the overpayment is yours to keep. Put any overpayments aside in case repayment is determined to be due and is required after the pandemic.
Additionally, the SSA will continue established collection activity for existing overpayments that were already being processed in their system before the Covcid-19 pandemic.
Other Temporarily Suspended Social Security Activities During Covid-19
#1. IMA Examinations
IMA, the company that holds consultative examinations with “agency doctors” for SSA, is not conducting disability examinations at this time. All previous or existing appointments for an exam with an IMA doctor will be cancelled.
The SSA has stated that applications may be decided without these examinations, during the pandemic.
#2. Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs)
Additionally, the Social Security Administration is not starting or completing any medical continuing disability reviews (CDRs) at the current time, until further notice.
#3. Benefit Reductions or Suspensions
The SSA is also not taking any new actions to reduce, suspend, or delay any existing benefits during this period. However, some “automated” benefit reduction or suspension actions may still be implemented.
Our Social Security Attorneys Can Help During Covid-19
The information in this article was current as of June 15, 2020. However, the SSA response to the Covid-19 pandemic is subject to ongoing changes. For the most up-to-date information on how the coronavirus situation is affecting your Social Security Benefits or claims please visit ssa.gov/coronavirus, or call our Social Security Attorneys.
Our compassionate and experienced Social Security Attorneys are here to help you during these difficult times, and can assist you in navigating the SSA system to collect the maximum Social Security Benefits for which you are eligible.
Warning: Communications threatening to stop your benefits because the SSA is closed, are most likely a scam. Any requests for money, payments or overpayments made via phone are also almost certainly a scam. Please reported these phone calls to the Inspector General. And, never give out personal, medical or financial information over the phone unless you are 100% certain you are speaking to an employee of the SSA.