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Tuesday January 26, 2021

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Get Help from Social Security During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I have heard that the Social Security Administration has closed all their offices because of the coronavirus pandemic. How are they accommodating people while they are closed?

The Social Security Administration has closed its 1,200 field offices throughout the country to protect benefit recipients and workers from the coronavirus pandemic. Their offices have been closed since March 17. How long they will be closed is unclear. It will depend on the course of the pandemic.

In the meantime, services will continue to be available online at SocialSecurity.gov and over the phone. You can also rest assured that monthly payments to the more than 69 million Social Security beneficiaries will not be affected in any way.

Here is a rundown of how you can get help and get answers to your Social Security questions, while their offices are closed.

Online Help

For any Social Security related tasks you need to conduct, go to SSA.gov/onlineservices. There you can view your latest statement and earnings history, apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter and much more. You can do this from anywhere with an internet connection and from any of your web-enabled devices.

Their website has a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions without having to speak with a representative. For answers to many of your Social Security questions see their frequently asked questions page at SSA.gov/ask.

Phone Assistance

If you cannot complete your Social Security related tasks online, check the SSA online field office locator (see SSA.gov/locator) for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions and provide other services over the phone.

You can also call the Social Security national toll-free number at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778). This number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative.

If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, Social Security will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. The call may come from a private number and not from a federal line.

Beware of Scams

Be aware that Social Security telephone impersonation scams are growing. These scammers may falsely tell you that there is a problem with your account, that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspected illegal activity, that you are owed a cost-of-living benefit increase or that your monthly benefits will stop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The caller may also threaten your benefits, suggest you will face legal action if you do not provide information, or pressure you to send money via wire transfers, cash or gift cards. They may even “spoof” the caller ID to make it look like Social Security is calling.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up. Social Security rarely contacts anyone by phone unless it has ongoing business with them, such as a scheduled appointment. Social Security will never threaten you or ask for any form of payment.

For more information on how to get help with Social Security during the coronavirus shutdown, visit SSA.gov/coronavirus.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 10, 2020

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