Social Security Offices Will Not Open Jan. 3 as Proposed — How Does This Affect You?
According to a statement released on Dec. 22, the SSA said: “You may have seen a proposed reentry date of January 3, 2022 in the draft reentry plan that we provided to our unions, or in the media. While some executives reentered on December 1, we have not set a reentry date for the rest of the agency.”
More than 1,200 field offices have been closed since March 2020, which provided assistance on applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as retirement and Medicare claims, Reuters reported last month. In 2019, these offices served more than 43 million visitors. However, since the onset of the pandemic, almost all public service has only been available online, by phone and mail.
These closures have frustrated the public and Congress, saying that those from vulnerable communities now have limited access to Social Security benefits, Federal News Network reported.
“The most serious problems are related to the drop in awards for the most vulnerable people,” David Weaver, a former associate commissioner in Social Security’s Office of Research, Demonstration and Employment Support, said to Reuters. “It’s people who might have less ability to get information off the internet, or easy access to information on how to contact the agency. And people seeking SSI and disability may have serious mental impairments or be homeless.”
The SSA says that the best way to reach the agency is online, by calling the national 800 number or calling a local Social Security office. At this time, in-person service is by appointment and only for “limited, critical issues.” Voluntary hearings will continue to be held by online video or by phone. The SSA has also taken steps to increase in-person help for those unable to complete their business online or by phone.
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