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Social Security Retirement, Disability, and SSI Benefits: Changes under COVID-19

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Summary

Eligibility requirements for Social Security Retirement, Disability, Survivor and SSI benefits remain the same. However, since Social Security offices are temporarily closed, application procedures and scheduled appointments have been modified.

For additional updates, visit: https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus for updates.

If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on Social Security programs, refer to Benefits Plus:

  • Cash Benefits, Social Security Retirement & Survivors Insurance,
  • Cash Benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance, or
  • Cash Benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

For Benefits Plus subscription information visit: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.

Social Security Offices Closures

All local Social Security offices are closed to the public for most in-person services as of Tuesday March 17, 2020 until further notice.

CONTACT VIA PHONE

SSA field offices may offer assistance via phone call for certain crucial services, including:

  • Reinstatement of benefits in dire circumstances
  • Assistance to people with severe disabilities, blindness or terminal illnesses,
  • People in dire need of eligibility decisions for Supplemental Security Income or the associated ongoing eligibility for Medicaid when returning to work.

Individuals should check SSA’s online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact a local office. To locate the nearest local Social Security office, go to https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.

In addition, individuals can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). SSA is experiencing longer than normal wait times and asks the public to remain patient. SSA has changed their hours for the national number from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time to 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. local time.

MY SOCIAL SECURITY – ONLINE PORTAL

Applicants and current recipients are encouraged to use my Social Security, an online platform where users can access Social Security online services. Account holders have the ability to apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits, check the status of an application, check their Social Security statement, change address, verify reported earnings, estimate future benefits, request a replacement Social Security Card, and more.

To create a mySocial Security account, go to https://www.ssa.gov/signin. There is also a user guide available at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10540.pdf. For more information go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/what.html#h0

Changes in the Application Process

Individuals are encouraged to apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online.

Applicants are unable to use the online services should call the local Social Security office. Visit: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp for phone numbers, or call the National Number, 800-772-1213. Please be aware that wait times may be longer than usual.

Changes for Social Security Scheduled Appointments

CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATIONS

SSA is not requiring applicants to appear in-person for consultative examinations during the emergency. SSA has instructed the various State Disability Determination Services to reschedule any case where a consultative exam has been canceled, once the COVID 19 emergency subsides.

OTHER SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS

If an individual has a scheduled appointment during this emergency, SSA will call the individual to conduct business over the phone where possible.

If an individual has a hearing scheduled, SSA will call the individual to discuss alternatives, including offering a telephonic hearing.

Please note that SSA calls may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. government phone.

Changes in Social Security Required Activities

The following activities are suspended until further notice:

  • Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), both initiating new ones or completing current ones,
  • Processing and collection of overpayments,
  • Monitoring of and requiring accountings from representative payees,
  • Processing requests for information from third parties, although the site notes exceptions for appointed representatives and third parties.
Note

Former SSI recipients that require a separate Medicaid eligibility determination will have Medicaid coverage extended. No renewals or redeterminations will be required at this time.

Scammers

The Social Security Administration reminds everyone to be aware of scammers who try to take advantage of the pandemic to trick people into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain Social Security benefit payments or receive economic impact payments from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

How COVID-19 Cash Aid Impacts Social Security and SSI Benefits

CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS

Payments received by the individual will not count as income for SSI, Social Security Retirement, Disability, Survivor or Dependent benefits.

For SSI recipients, payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

Social Security Retirement & Disability Insurance Beneficiaries

Income from pandemic unemployment compensation is not counted against Social Security insurance-based beneficiaries.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount, will count as unearned income for SSI purposes, thus it is very likely that many beneficiaries will have their SSI benefits suspended. However, SSI recipients will not lose their Medicaid coverage while in receipt of the additional $600, at least for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

Once the extra $600 ends on July 31st, and as long as the regular PUA benefit amount does not make them ineligible, SSI recipients can have their SSI benefits reinstated.

For more information on the expanded unemployment benefits refer to COVID-19 Resources, Expansion of Unemployment Insurance.