Social Security Offices – Closed
All Social Security Offices remain closed to the public, with very few people being able to get access for scheduled meetings. (SSA.gov).
This is hurting, and frustrating, many applicants, would be applicants, and people who just need a new social security card issued.
Many of the people who need the Social Security Administration’s services, are poor, elderly, or disabled. Meaning that phone conversations can be frustrating, difficult, or impossible. Reliable phone and internet access is not always a luxury that those who utilize the services can afford or sometimes even use.
In previous years the Social Security offices were visited by 43 million people a year! (Washington Post) Meaning that each of the Administration’s 1,230 offices were, on average, visited by almost 35,000 every year. Now that is not the case.
With the offices still closed, the Administration is urging people to use their online service, by mail, or by phone. However, their online services can be limited and challenging. The mail can be slow and spotty, especially around the holidays.
Calling the office requires waiting on hold for long periods of time, using valuable minutes that could be used talking to a loved one that they can no longer see due to the pandemic, not sitting on hold. Additionally, the inspector general reported that only 51% of all calls from the public were answered. (Washington Post).
For many of the people that need the services, they can no longer access the services.
How it affects those applying for disability?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. Social Security administers this program. We pay monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also get SSI.) awards dropped to the lowest point in 22 years; a 29% decrease in less than one year! Social Security Disability Insurance (Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.) awards saw a 17% decrease in awards. (Washington Post).
The number of SSI applications also significantly decreased. Benefits for children dropped 51%, adults dropped 32%, and the elderly dropped 55% in just the first month after the offices closed; and the numbers seem to have stayed consistent. (Washington Post).
After as many as 144,000 applicants were disqualified for benefits, by the SSA’s own error, the only remedy to contest the claim was to call a toll-free number. (Washington Post).
Even if someone qualifies for an in-person appointment, often they still cannot have their appointment in person due because either they do not know they qualify, or the office does not have the staff. (Washington Post).
It was previously announced by the The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a U.S. government agency that administers social programs covering disability, retirement, and survivors' benefits. It was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. that beginning in January, that the staff would begin to return to the office. However, just 9 days shy of their return the Administration announced that they no longer have a reentry date set. (SSA.gov).
Meaning that many Americans will now have to suffer and go without aid.