News

Getting Help With Social Security or Medicare During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Christian Worstell

by Christian Worstell | Published April 30, 2020 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Follow our Medicare Coronavirus News page for related information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on Medicare beneficiaries.

All of the Social Security offices in the United States are now closed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. And this may have many people wondering how their enrollment or current benefits may be affected, or how they can still receive assistance if needed.

Here are some answers to common questions about how Social Security and Medicare enrollment and benefits are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you are currently receiving Social Security retirement benefits, your income will not change.

Social Security retirement benefits will not be affected by Social Security Administration (SSA) office closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you receive your SSA benefits payment via direct deposit or through the U.S. mail, you will continue to be paid as normal.

You can still call your local Social Security office.

Although Social Security offices have been closed to outside visitors during the outbreak, they are still staffed with employees taking phone calls.

Wait times are expected to be long due to the high number of callers. In fact, the Social Security website says wait times may take up to 90 minutes or longer

During the pandemic, staff will be dedicated to serving the people in the most critical need of help. If your request can be processed online, the agents will redirect you to Social Security’s online services.

Learn what steps you can take online and how to navigate the Social Security website, SSA.gov.

There are also a number of services that can be processes through the SSA automated phone service system. 

You can still send mail to your local SSA office.

If you needed to mail something in to your local Social Security office, you may still do so.

Mail is still being delivered, and there will still be employees at your local SSA office to receive mail.  

You can complete a number of requests online. 

Many of the things that you might call or visit your Social Security office about can be conducted online.

Some of these online services include:

  • Filing a claim for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits

  • Applying for Extra Help for Medicare Part D

  • Checking your application status

  • Filing an appeal for denied disability benefits

  • Requesting a new Social Security or Medicare card

  • Printing out proof of your benefits

  • Exploring additional benefits you may be eligible for

  • Changing your address on record 

  • Setting up direct deposit 

These are just some of the actions you can take online. Please visit Social Security’s online portal for a complete list.

You can apply for Social Security and Medicare online.

If you’re ready to apply for Social Security benefits, you may do so online by visiting the benefits application page, clicking “Apply Online” and following the instructions.

You can also get help learning how to enroll in Medicare online or by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent.

Your disability benefit hearing will go on as scheduled. 

If you were scheduled for a hearing regarding your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, it will still go on as planned.

You will be contacted prior to the hearing date to be offered a telephone hearing. 

Deadlines for providing documentation will be extended. 

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration will be extending most deadlines for requests for documentation and other information. 

There are certain things the Social Security Administration will not be doing during the pandemic.

In an effort to allocate resources during the pandemic, there are a few actions the Social Security Administration will not be performing at this time.

Some of these services include:

  • Starting or completing any current medical continuing disability reviews

  • Processing and collecting overpayments

  • Conducting organization or individual representative payee accountings

  • Processing a third party request for information, except from appointed representatives and representative payees

  • Processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests 

Be sure to reach out directly to your local Social Security office online or by phone if you have additional questions.


 

Christian Worstell is a health care and policy writer for MedicareSupplement.com. He has written hundreds of articles helping people better understand their Medicare coverage options.

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