People around the world are seeing all kinds of losses during this pandemic – loss of jobs, loss of insurance, and for many, a loss of medical assistance such as disability benefits. This is primarily due to the closure of the offices of the Social Security Administration (SSA) as they transition to remote work. The change has significantly delayed the distribution of benefits, so below are guidelines on how to collect disability as the public waits for standard SSA activity to resume.
How to Collect Disability While SSA Offices are Closed
Although the situation seems dire, you are not out of options concerning how you can go about collecting your disability benefits amidst the corona virus pandemic. Fortunately, many of the processes conducted and overseen by the SSA can be done online or over the phone. (Additionally, over 69 million SSA beneficiaries have remained unaffected by the pandemic, so, despite the changes, you are unlikely to see drastic changes to your experience.) With this considered, you must realize that the SSA is not closing for business, it is simply redirecting its services to remote environments.
Still, they will offer in-person assistance for services that they have determined are “crucial.” Such services include:
- The emergency reinstatement of benefits
- Assistance to those that live with severe disabilities
- Terminal Illnesses
- Urgent decisions for eligibility (regarding Supplemental Security Income or SSI, and/or Medicaid eligibility, especially for those that have been laid off)
Still, these services must be requested in advance. To collect your benefits, you must contact the Administration through their toll-free number 800-772-1213 or their website ssa.gov/onlineservices/. Remote services that require court assistance currently include:
- Telephone hearings
- Video hearings
- Writing and issuing decisions on disability claims
- Scheduling and developing disability hearings
If you had a hearing scheduled before shelter-in-place orders were given or before the SSA shut its doors, avoid visiting the hearing office and instead wait for a confirmation from the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). They will accommodate you and hold your hearing over the phone – just be aware that, although they will do their best to hold the hearing on the date your original hearing was scheduled, this may not be possible, and you will be notified if it is not.
For those seeking disability benefits without the help of a legal team, you can apply for your benefits online or, if necessary, file your appeals reconsideration on the website as well, as long as it is within 60-days of the Notice of Decision.
Get Help with Collecting Disability During the Coronavirus Pandemic
With the closure of SSA offices, many people are becoming increasingly stressed about how they will collect their disability benefits. Still, you must realize that recent changes are not an indication that SSA will stop providing benefits, rather, they will be doing so remotely. It can be overwhelming to navigate all of these new methods of receiving benefits, so it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to guide you. Don’t become tangled in trying to learn this whole system on your own. Enlist the help of an attorney today to get you your benefits as soon as possible.