COVID19 & Social Security's "New Normal"
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
The novel Coronavirus has turned the world as we know it upside-down. From big concerts to grocery shopping, we have had to change the way we navigate through life. Take a look at how the Social Security Administration has adjusted to this "new normal."
As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, all Social Security Offices have been closed to the public since Tuesday March 17, 2020. This decision protects the at-risk population that these offices frequently serve. However, SSA offices - like Kapor | Davis & Associates - are still committed to providing critical services remotely.
To begin, if you are not receiving your regularly scheduled payment from Social Security as a result of the national emergency, please call your local Social Security office. The pandemic did not stop the distribution of these payments.
The IRS began issuing Economic Impact Payments (EIP) via direct deposit and Direct Express to those receiving SSI/SSDI in April; these deposits were made to the same accounts that you would receive your monthly Social Security, SSDI, or SSI payments. As of May 22, 2020, the IRS has issued EIPs (also known as stimulus checks) to approximately 1.4 million SSI recipients, and 10.4 million Social Security beneficiaries (including SSDI recipients).
It is important to note that these EIPs do NOT count as income or resources for a 12 month period, and will therefore not impact an SSI recipient's continued eligibility for SSI or their payment amount.
Return to In-Person Work
According to a union leader who represents 25,000 field office and call center workers, telework at the SSA is boosting call center answer rates and improving customer service overall.
The agency should allow employees to continue teleworking to the longest extent possible, even after the COVID19 pandemic abates. The union is asking the agency to consider a plan that would allow the SSA to close most of its 1300 field offices in the U.S. and save hundreds of millions of dollars on facility costs, he said. Though the agency has clashed with its unions in the past over remote work, Ralph de Juliis - president of Council 220 of the American Federation of Government Employees - said he's hopeful that agency officials are seeing the benefits now that most employees are working from home.
Since the SSA began allowing most of its 55,000+ employees to work remotely, call rates are up from 70% to 95%; employees - for the first time in years - can schedule next-day phone appointments, while safeguarding customers' personal information by using virtual private networks to encrypt communication.
The Social Security Administration told the union on May 1 that it is too early to make decisions about reopening offices. Some argue that the agency must maintain a strong physical presence for those who depend on their services. Stacy Cloyd - director of Policy and Administrative Advocacy at the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives - stated, "we support people having options for accurate and timely services, but in-person services will need to be one of those options."
When that will happen is still uncertain
If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, please contact our office.
For more questions regarding COVID19 and the SSA, please visit: https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/