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Public Benefits: What Should I Know about Social Security Benefits during COVID-19?



What is Social Security doing to address the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA is focused on providing critical services to people in dire need.  People who are eligible for social security benefits but face the following circumstances may be able to get payments more quickly than usual:

  • You did not receive your monthly payment;
  • You are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless; or
  • Your benefits were suspended and can now be reinstated.

I keep trying to call Social Security, but I can’t get through. What can I do?

The general 800 number for Social Security is overwhelmed with calls at this time. It is best to call your local office, and you can find the number for your area here: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

If you are in Cuyahoga County, most calls are being handled by the Downtown Social Security Office. Their number is 1-877-378-9078.

What Social Security tasks can I complete online?

Many tasks can be completed online. Examples include: applying for benefits, checking the status of an application or appeal, requesting a replacement card, changing your address, changing or setting up direct deposit. For more information visit: https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/

Will Social Security take any actions that may impact my payments?

Social Security is trying to stop actions that could lower or stop your benefits. If you get a notice saying that your benefits are going to stop or go down, call your local Social Security office right away. You must report the following:

  • Change of address;
  • Change of direct deposit;
  • Report of a death; and
  • Representative payee changes.

I get disability from Social Security, or I want to get disability benefits. How has COVID-19 impacted disability benefits?

SSA will accept new applications for benefits as well as assist people who are already receiving benefits. Critical claims are being prioritized.

Disability applications for the most severe disabilities include the following:

  • If you have a terminal illness;
  • If you are a Wounded Warrior;
  • If you may qualify for an immediate Supplemental Security Income payment based on certain severe disabilities;
  • If your disability qualifies for Compassionate Allowance or Quick Disability Determination processes.

I have a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) pending. When can I expect an answer?

SSA will not start or complete any current medical Continuing Disability Reviews. If you have a medical Continuing Disability Review pending, please do not request medical information from your doctors at this time. SSA will follow up with you for any medical evidence once the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides.

I am a representative payee for someone. Is SSA conducting individual or organizational payee accountings?

Not at this time. You should still keep track of how the person’s benefits are used, but you will not have to provide an accounting to Social Security right now.

How is SSA handling overpayments?

SSA has suspended processing and collecting most new overpayments. However, SSA will continue collecting on existing overpayments.

Some automated processes will keep going because there are not enough SSA employees available to cancel them. If you currently have an overpayment and are paying monthly, you can ask SSA to reduce your monthly payment.

I had a hearing scheduled with Social Security about my disability benefits. What will happen?

Social Security will be doing all hearings by telephone. If you had an in-person hearing scheduled, Social Security will contact you to reschedule it. You aren’t required to have a telephone hearing, but if you want an in-person hearing, it may not be scheduled for several months.

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