Social Security Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Essential Information

The Social Security Administration continues to assist you and others in your communities during the current coronavirus outbreak. While their offices are closed to walk-in visitors due to COVID-19, we are still available to assist you over the phone with most Social Security issues. Call your local Social Security office or our national 800 number to talk with a representative. Using a Social Security Office Locator, you can look up local office phone numbers online.

The SSA provides a number of safe and convenient online services, including:

  • Apply for benefits such as retirement, disability, and Medicare.
  • Check on the status of a request or an appeal.
  • Make a request for a new Social Security card (in most areas).
  • Print a benefit verification letter, as well as a variety of other documents.

Despite the fact that you can do most of your business with them online, they understand that this service channel isn’t for everyone. By phone, you can still reach them. If you have a pressing issue that they are unable to resolve over the phone or online, they may be able to make an appointment for you.

Please don’t wait till they can see you in person if you need assistance. Call them right now to obtain the assistance you require. They also recognize that because to the pandemic, obtaining medical and other documents can be challenging, thus they are continuing to extend some dates whenever possible.

Additional Resources:

Does a Government Shutdown Affect Social Security Beneficiaries?

An act of Congress created America’s Social Security system in 1935. Originally, Social Security exclusively paid benefits to retired workers aged 65 and over. Eventually, Congress expanded the program so that spouses and minor children of workers and people affected by disability could also receive benefits.

What is a government shutdown?

The term “government shutdown” is somewhat misleading since the entire federal government never shuts down. Each year Congress has the responsibility to pass bills to fund federal government functions that rely on revenue from the general tax fund. A partial government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass bills that fund some portion of the government reliant on general tax money.

Government Shutdowns and Social Security

Federal government shutdowns should not affect Social Security beneficiaries. Social Security benefits are not paid from the general tax fund. Social Security payments for retirement and disability come from trust funds dedicated to those benefits. In addition, the federal government classifies retirement and disability payments from Social Security as mandatory spending. That means Social Security beneficiaries should always receive their payments during a government shutdown.

Historically, the Social Security Administration has fulfilled its obligation to send benefits during government shutdowns. There were extended government shutdowns in 1995 and 2013. In both cases, the agency had to furlough nonessential staff. However, enough employees were kept working to get payments in the mail in 1995. By 2013, the agency had shifted to electronic payments, however, some staff members had to be maintained to process those benefits. During the government shutdown that ended in January 2019, Social Security payments were not interrupted.

How to Become a Social Security Beneficiary

To be eligible for retirement benefits, you must be at least 62 years old. Eligibility for disability requires that you have recently worked in a job covered by Social Security. Also, your disability must be expected to make you unable to work for at least a year. You can apply for Social Security retirement and disability benefits online.