In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, many businesses and operations have closed their doors. Essential businesses have also altered their hours or adjusted their services. For example, many supermarkets are reserving an hour or more each week to populations most at risk, and some bank branches are utilizing drive-through and appointment-only services.
Similarly, Social Security offices have taken measures to protect the public — opting to completely close their offices. But whether their doors are open or not, this program provides critical benefits for millions of people in the United States. In June 2019, over 63 million people (or one in every six U.S. residents) collected Social Security benefits.1 Therefore, it’s vital that participants are still able to troubleshoot issues and receive assistance with regard to their benefits. Below, we explain why Social Security offices are closed and how you can still get help if needed.
Common Coronavirus Social Security Questions Answered
Why Have Social Security Offices Closed?
As of March 17, 2020, Social Security offices closed for in-person services in order to protect the public and employees. The population served by Social Security offices is the one most at risk in the context of COVID-19: older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions. As such, Social Security offices are not accepting any visitors.2
What if I'm Ready to Begin Receiving Social Security?
If you’re ready to claim Social Security, you can do so with the SSA’s online services. Here, you can apply for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits. You can also check on the status of an application or appeal online.2
How Can I Request a Replacement Social Security Card?
You can request a replacement Social Security card online for most areas and situations. However, in the rare instance that you cannot access the online automated process, the SSA can potentially provide an in-office appointment. To find your local office, visit the Social Security Office Locator.2
Will I Continue to Receive Benefits as Usual?
Yes. Whether you use Direct Deposit or receive your monthly benefit by mail, your benefits will still be sent as usual.2
What if I Need to Speak to a Representative?
The SSA has recommended that the public first try to utilize their online services before calling. If you still need to call and cannot address your query online, the SSA suggests calling your local office. If you cannot reach your local office, you can try the SSA’s National 800 Number to utilize an automated telephone service. If the automated telephone service does not work for your issue, you can wait to speak to a representative, but the SSA has warned that wait times are longer than usual and could be up to 90 minutes or longer.2
What Should I Do if I Previously Had a Scheduled In-Person Appointment Time?
If you had an appointment set up before the closures, a representative should still call you at the time of the appointment.2
Should I Be Worried About Social Security Scams?
Whether or not you already receive benefits or you’re ready to claim Social Security, the SSA urges everyone to be wary of scammers pretending to be calling from the SSA - especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These scammers are attempting to deceive people into sending money or disclosing personal information. The SSA encourages you not to respond to calls, emails, texts or letters with abnormal communications, such as a threat or unusual benefit promise in exchange for payment.3
With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, many retirees are left wondering how they can access their Social Security benefits or get their important questions answered. Start with using the SSA's online resources and only give the office a call if you have to, as wait times may be longer than usual.