En español | The Social Security Administration (SSA) is allowing limited, appointment-only visits to its field offices nationwide, but the sites remain closed to walk-in customers.
The SSA closed its offices for all in-person service on March 17, saying at the time that the move “protects the population we serve — older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions — and our employees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
As outlined in an Oct. 22 update to the SSA's online COVID-19 page, members of the public can now seek to schedule office visits for “dire-need situations” that cannot be resolved online or by phone.
The agency has not announced a date for when field offices might reopen for full service. It says it will work with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local governments to make that determination.
You can always conduct routine business, such as checking on your benefits or ordering a replacement Social Security card, by setting up and using your personal My Social Security account online. You can use this account to arrange for direct deposit of your benefits, to change your address or phone number or to get other kinds of help.
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Appointments for ‘dire need'
The SSA says dire need exists if:
- You are without food or shelter, utilities, or medical care or coverage and need to apply for or reinstate benefits.
- You receive benefits and have an urgent need for payment to meet expenses for food, shelter or medical treatment, and you cannot receive the payment electronically.
In these situations you can call your local office to inquire whether you qualify for an in-person visit. The SSA cautions that “appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing."
You may also be able to schedule a visit to resolve issues with your Social Security number. The SSA is prioritizing such requests for:
- People age 12 and up who are applying for their first Social Security card.
- People who need to update or correct data attached to their number, such as name, date of birth or citizenship status, in order to obtain income, resources, medical care or coverage or other services or benefits (for example, filing a tax return, applying for housing or seeking a COVID-19 stimulus payment).
Restrictions for visitors
Masks are required for in-person visits to Social Security sites. The office will provide a mask if you do not have one.
Visitors must attest that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, cough or sore throat, difficulty breathing or new loss of taste or smell.
They must also affirm that within the previous 14 days, they:
- have not been diagnosed, or been within 6 feet of someone who has been diagnosed, with COVID-19;
- have not been instructed to monitor for symptoms or self-quarantine;
- and have not traveled outside the country.
Hearing offices closed
Hearing offices that normally host proceedings when someone appeals a denied claim for Social Security disability benefits remain closed.
The SSA is holding such hearings by telephone and says it expects to introduce online video hearings later in the fall. Telephone hearings are not mandatory; claimants can elect to postpone their hearing until another option is available.
The Social Security website has a page with detailed information on hearing options during the pandemic.