Your Comprehensive Guide to COVID-19 and Disability Benefits
Like the rest of the country, the Social Security Administration is adapting to COVID-19. Millions of Americans depend on their disability benefits each month. However, the SSA has taken steps to ensure COVID-19 won’t disrupt those benefits.
While COVID-19 is impacting a few services, most disability payments will proceed as usual. You will still receive payments. And, you can still apply for benefits. There are, however, a few things you’ll need to know about managing your benefits during this time.
Social Security Services Available During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The SSA is following stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. This means that the offices are not open. However, you will still receive disability benefits. In addition, you are also free to appeal a decision at this time. Key Social Security services you can still access are:
- Benefit hearings: The good news is that disability hearings are still going on. You won’t have an in-person hearing, though. It will be over the phone.
- Communication channels: You can apply for benefits and find answers to common questions online. People with severe conditions or payment problems can call the SSA.
- Direct deposits: If you already have direct deposit set up, you’re all set. You can still receive payments by mail. And, recipients can also sign up for direct deposit online.
The SSA is receiving a lot of calls right now. This means longer wait times. However, SSA has made it easy to resolve most issues online.
FAQs: COVID-19 + Disability Benefits
Most services are operating under normal conditions. Some people won’t notice any difference in their benefits. However, there have been a few changes to the SSA because of COVID-19.
1. What Scams Do People Need to Know About?
Unfortunately, some individuals use emergency situations like this to prey on others. One common scam is to act as a representative for the SSA. They’ll offer payments in exchange for financial information. The SSA doesn’t do that.
In a variation of this scam, someone may offer a COVID-19 test in exchange for your Medicare information. Another example of this scam may include receiving a letter in the mail. Specifically, this letter threatens to suspend disability benefits due to COVID-19 closures. Please, keep in mind, the SSA doesn’t offer COVID-19 testing. They aren’t canceling benefits, either.
2. What Services Are On Hold Right Now?
The SSA is suspending activities that reduce benefits. This includes suspending medical continuing disability reviews. Also, they are not attempting to collect overpayments, either.
Other administrative tasks are on hold, as well. The SSA is taking limited third-party requests for information at this time, and the request must come from an appointed representative or payee. Additionally, they aren’t processing any FOIA requests.
3. Will the Social Security Administration Extend Deadlines?
Yes. The SSA is extending deadlines for returning documents. You won’t be at risk of losing benefits because of COVID-19. The SSA is also applying maximum flexibility to the “good cause” policy. This means you will have an extended period of time to appeal decisions.
4. How Do You File for Unemployment?
The SSA doesn’t administer unemployment. Every state has different policies for unemployment benefits, and many are making contingency plans for the COVID-19 outbreak. So, start with your state unemployment office. You should be able to apply online.
Finding Additional COVID-19 Resources
In addition to disability and unemployment benefits, there are other COVID-19 resources. Every state is working toward legislation to assist people during this time. You might also have access to resources locally from the city or local businesses. Need help applying for Social Security disability benefits? Disability Support Services can help you get you the payments you deserve.