It has been an extraordinary week as we as a company and community face the ongoing challenges and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is of the utmost importance that we stay strong, stay connected, and continue to practice social distancing to slow the health and financial impact of the disease.
As many of you may already know, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has closed all of its offices to the public and has directed its staff to work from home as much as possible. The virus has proven to be deadly, particularly among the older population and for those with certain underlying medical conditions, and the SSA has therefore taken these steps to protect their staff and the public as much as possible while still fulfilling their mission-critical work to provide income security.
We have been informed that all SSA offices are continuing to take and adjudicate claims. They are prioritizing dire-need claims as they are identified. The SSA is also implementing policy and procedural changes intended to avoid reducing or suspending benefits during this health crisis. While this change to working-from-home for many of the SSA’s employees may slow the process, it is not stopping. However, the SSA warns that you may experience longer than average wait times on their national line.
The Office of Hearing Operations (OHO), the part of the SSA that handles hearings for SSDI and SSI claims, has also not shut down at this time. They have reported, however, that any hearings and prior-scheduled appointments will not be handled in-person at this time. Where possible, they will be held via telephone. People who have scheduled appointments may receive a call from the SSA or OHO to arrange to have their hearing handled on a phone conference. The call you receive, they say, may not come from a government phone number as many of their staff are also working from home.
IF YOU HAVE A HEARING SCHEDULED IN THE NEXT TWO MONTHS, we will be reaching out to you to make arrangements to either appear for the hearing via telephone or for us to request a postponement for a time when you can appear in person.
We are grateful to all of our clients for your patience and understanding in these unprecedented times, and for our employees who continue to work hard to provide the best service we can. The best way to stay in touch with us is to use email. Please email us any changes to your treating providers or address changes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please email us any changes to your treating providers or address changes. It is our goal to remain open and to continue serving you to the best of our ability.
In the famous words of Justice William Brennan, Jr., “We must meet the challenge rather than wish it was not before us.”
Please take a moment to review the material on the virus, including how to keep yourself and your family safe, from the Centers for Disease Control:
We wish you all the best,
Thomas A. Klint, Premier Disability Services, LLC®