The Social Security Administration’s commissioner wants you to know you’ll still get paid, but the agency is changing a few other policies in the midst of the coronavirus crisis — and wants recipients to be aware of potential threats to their financial security too.
“The first thing you should know is that we continue to pay benefits,” said Andrew Saul, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, in a statement on Thursday.
This is true whether Americans are receiving their Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments via direct deposit or mail, though they should check in with the U.S. Postal Service for any updates as well. Right now, the USPS is “closely monitoring” the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The Surgeon General, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all said there’s currently no evidence the disease can spread through mail.
Americans need to be vigilant about digital threats, Saul said in his statement. “Be aware that scammers may try to trick you into thinking the pandemic is stopping your Social Security payments but that is not true,” he said. “Don’t be fooled.”
One way Americans can ensure they have not become a victim of fraud is to check mySSA, where individuals set up accounts so they can see their personal information and work history.
People should be wary if they’ve been contacted by the Social Security Administration. The agency does reach out to Americans over the phone in some situations, but one way to be sure is to ask the callers if you can call them back at their extension. Then call the SSA customer service phone line and dial the extension.
The Social Security Administration is also closing its locations to visitors, in an attempt to stop the spreading of the coronavirus, a disease that has infected more than 236,000 people and killed another 9,800 people around the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
The administration said all face-to-face services in its field and hearings offices will be suspended until further notice. “This decision protects the population we serve — older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions — and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the agency said on its website.
Americans can still get help from the SSA, though. The agency suggests looking for resources on its website, or calling local offices’ General Inquiry lines or its national number. Individuals can apply for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits online, as well as request a replacement Social Security card in most areas and change an address.
SSA agents are focusing on a few critical areas during the pandemic, according to the agency’s site. It will accept requests for dire need benefit payments, including for those who did not receive their monthly payments, are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless or if benefits were suspended and can now be reinstated. They are prioritizing critical claims for disability applications in the most severe of circumstances, as well as Medicare and Medicaid applications.
SSA has suspended processing and collection of overpayments, third-party requests for information (except from appointed representatives and representative payees) and Freedom of Information Act requests. It will also not start or complete any current medical continuing disability reviews, it said. “We will follow up with you for any medical evidence once the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides,” it said.