Coronavirus cases are expected to grow throughout the winter season, which unfortunately aligns with flu season. Both diseases post a special danger to DIB recipients in the high risk category.
To protect benefits applicants, the Social Security Administration has rolled out several safety precautions regarding office visits and hearings. Learn more about the safety guidelines below.
Local Social Security Offices are Closed
To limit the spread of germs, Social Security field offices are closed to visitors. They only offer phone services for the time being. If you had an in-office visit scheduled, an agent will call you to schedule a phone visit.
Critical services are still available. You may qualify for an in-person appointment if any of these apply to your situation:
- You are without food or shelter, or urgently need payment to avoid losing shelter, and are not able to receive payments electronically
You need assistance with your Social Security number and are under 12 years of age
- You need to update or correct your SSN information in order to receive income, resources, medical care, or other services
- If you are in dire need of emergency payments, reinstatement of benefits, or are an SSI recipient in need interim financial assistance, you may qualify for an in-person appointment.
You can find out if you qualify for an in-person appointment by calling your local field office’s phone number. If you’re having trouble locating that, you may also call the Social Security national line at 800-772-1213.
How has Covid Affected Disability Hearings?
Most hearing office employees are working from home these days. If you already had a hearing appointment scheduled, you should not go to the hearing office. Instead, wait for the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) to call you or your disability attorney about scheduling a telephone hearing.
If you don’t wish to waive your right to an in-person hearing, you are within your rights to postpone and reschedule. However, keep in mind that the pandemic could continue for many months. It may be a long time until your hearing takes place even if you do not postpone. Your disability attorney or representative may not be available for an in-person hearing either.
If the phone hearing can’t be held at the time of your original hearing, the OHO will try their best to reschedule as soon as possible.
If your hearing was canceled due to the pandemic, the OHO should have called you. But in case they didn’t, you should call your local OHO office and ask to schedule one.
Use the Tools on the SSA Website
You can take care of most things regarding your disability benefits online using the SSA website. This includes filling out the initial application for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Once you have filed, you can track your application using your My Social Security account. It is easy to set up and get real time updates on the status of your claim.
If your initial application has been denied, you can also submit an appeal online or request a hearing online. You will have 60 days from the notice of decision to file an appeal. Keeping deadlines can get tricky, and it helps if you have an experienced attorney on your side to help.
The SSA is not processing or collecting overpayments at the moment.
Many disability benefits recipients are concerned about whether or not they are able to receive a stimulus check. You are eligible for benefits, you are also eligible to receive any federal stimulus payments the government may issue. Your disability status does not disqualify you from receiving the stimulus check.
Lastly, be aware of scam calls. Since the pandemic began, scam callers have tried to steal sensitive information by pretending to be the Social Security Administration. You may receive a phone call from the SSA if you have a hearing coming up, but a real representative will never threaten to suspend your Social Security number or demand payment. Trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
Help from a Local Disability Attorney
Here at Hensley Legal Group, we understand that you might be overwhelmed with applying for disability during this unprecedented time. We want to help. We can assist with these things on your behalf:
- Filling out the initial application
- Collecting medical evidence from your healthcare providers
- Appealing denials
- Scheduling a hearing
Our attorneys can represent you on your telephone hearing or even attend the in-person hearing, if you choose one. Many SSDI applicants are denied upon their initial application. Having an attorney on your side who is familiar with the process can bring you peace of mind.
Please get in touch with us today by calling our office or contacting us online. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and your consultation is always free. We offer completely contactless virtual visits and easy signups that can be done online. Don’t wait to get the help you need.