No. Telephone hearings are not mandatory; however, as our hearing offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future, we encourage you to consider a telephone hearing if you cannot wait for an answer on your claim. When our hearing office staff contacts you or your representative in advance of the hearing, you may agree to a telephone hearing or ask us to postpone your hearing. If you do not want a telephone hearing and you ask us to postpone, please be aware that we do not have an estimate of when we will be able to hold your hearing. If you initially decline our offer for a telephone hearing and later change your mind, please contact your local hearing office to have your hearing scheduled. Beginning later this fall, we plan to introduce online video hearings, which people can do from a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer. We will let the public know when this option is available.
Has SSA considered doing internet-based video hearings like other agencies and court systems are doing?
Yes. In addition to current telephone hearings, we plan to improve service further by offering online video hearings to our claimants beginning this fall. Similar to what other agencies and court systems use, the online video hearing technology will continue our ability to meet claimants where they are and allow for hearings with high-clarity video and audio in a user-friendly, safe, and private environment. To learn more about how we are conducting hearings during COVID-19, click here.
If your offices are not conducting in-person hearings, will I still have my hearing?
Yes. Our hearing offices will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future, and we will not be offering in-person service. However, we are able to conduct hearings by telephone and we encourage people who need a decision on their claim to agree to a telephone hearing. Beginning later this fall, we plan to introduce online video hearings, which people can do from a camera-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Subscribe to the SSA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page to get updates on SSA services such as online video hearings during the COVID-19 crisis.
Can I request a waiver for an overpayment debt incurred during COVID-19?
Yes. Please call your local Social Security office and one of our employees will assist you. Under our rules, if you believe an overpayment was not your fault and you should not have to pay us back, you need to request a waiver of the overpayment debt. Certain debts may qualify for a streamlined waiver decision if:
Your overpayment debt happened between March 1 and September 30, 2020 because Social Security did not process an action due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
We identify the debt by December 31, 2020.
How will your offices confirm the manner of appearance for hearings?
At this time, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are only able to conduct hearings by telephone until we resume our standard operations. As of July 31, 2020, we updated our outreach process for cases in which the claimant is represented. We will now send the COVID-19 Telephone Hearing Agreement form to the representative instead of calling the representative. This form can also be downloaded for representatives to complete and upload through Appointed Representative Services (ARS) for those with access, or faxed into the hearing office for those without access to ARS.
The claimant or representative will indicate on the form if the claimant agrees to a hearing by telephone, and if so, provide phone numbers to reach them for the hearing.
The representative may sign the form in lieu of the claimant.
We also will accept a verbal agreement to appear by telephone.
We will not schedule, or proceed with a hearing by telephone unless we receive the claimant’s consent. If the claimant does not consent to appear by telephone, we will not schedule the hearing at this time, or if already scheduled, we will postpone the hearing until we can offer another option, such as a hearing by video teleconferencing or in person, as appropriate.
What scams should I know about?
This question consolidates and replaces previous questions related to scams.
Unfortunately, there are scammers who will take advantage of the current situation and try to trick you out of your money and personal information. Don’t be fooled!
If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, or another government agency offering COVID-19 related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Visit Treasury’s website if you suspect economic impact payment fraud. Report Social Security scams about COVID-19.
Below are some of the scams we know about, but there can be many variations:
The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. We will not suspend or discontinue benefits because our offices are closed to the public for in-person service. Read this and other fraud advisories.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. For example, scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate. Learn about this and other COVID-19 fraud from HHS.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is alerting people about various COVID-19 related fraud and scams. From contact tracing scams to treatment claims, government imposter scams, and fraud related to Economic Impact Payments, learn about all COVID-19 related fraud and scams at ftc.gov/coronavirus/resources, and report the scams you see at ftc.gov/complaint.
How can I communicate with my local hearing office?
You can communicate with your local hearing office by telephone, fax, and e-Fax.
Our hearing office employees continue to answer our general inquiry lines during regular business hours for local hearing offices and can help you with the following matters:
Confirming your availability for a telephone hearing;
Documenting that you would like a postponement if you would prefer to wait until an in-person or video hearing is available;
Updating your records to ensure we have the appropriate telephone number and address; and
Claimants and representatives can send us documents by fax machine or by their own e-fax solution. Sending documents to us via fax delivers a secure, electronic copy to the specific hearing office’s designated email inbox. To submit documents electronically via fax, simply use the toll-free fax number with area code “833” assigned to the servicing hearing office. You can find your local hearing office phone number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator.
How can I ensure I am appropriately appointed as my claimant’s representative before the hearing?
It is extremely important that we have your appointment as representative on file before the hearing. For an appointment of representative to be valid, the claim(s) file must contain a completed and properly signed notice of appointment, which can be found at form SSA-1696, Claimant’s Appointment of Representative, or another written document that meets the requirements of 20 CFR 404.1707 and 416.1507. You can find additional information about the “Contact OHO Office” tool at https://www.ssa.gov/ar.
How can I prepare for my telephone hearing?
On the day of your phone hearing, it is extremely important that you be available to answer your phone. A member of our hearing office staff will call you a few minutes before your scheduled hearing time. If possible, find a quiet place to be alone (or with your representative) for your telephone hearing to protect your privacy and avoid distractions.
Just like for an in-person or video hearing, there will be a number of participants on the telephone hearing with you: you, your representative (if you are represented), the administrative law judge (ALJ), and a hearing reporter who will record and monitor the hearing. There may be other participants on the line as well, such as a vocational expert, medical expert, or interpreter.
To ensure you experience the best quality for your telephone hearing, we recommend the following:
Consider a traditional ‘land line’ telephone if you have one. It will provide you a better connection and sound quality.
If you are going to use a cell phone, ensure you sufficiently charge your cell phone to hold a conversation for at least an hour and a half. Try to find a location with privacy but that also has good reception.
Use the mute button on your telephone when you are not speaking to help reduce background noise. Just remember to unmute when you testify.
I use Appointed Representative Services or Electronic Records Express, and I am locked out of my account. What do I do?
Please call 1-866-691-3061 with questions or concerns regarding Appointed Representative Services (ARS) password resets, Electronic Records Express (ERE) password resets, and new ERE account registration. We are available to assist you from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. After hours questions about password resets and new ERE account registration may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointed Representatives experiencing problems with accessing electronic folders should contact the OHO.HQ.ARS@ssa.gov mailbox for assistance.
What is the best way for me to communicate with my local hearing office?
Our hearing office employees continue to answer our general inquiry lines during regular business hours for local hearing offices, and you can find your local hearing office phone number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator. We strongly recommend representatives submit information to our hearing offices electronically, using the following mechanisms:
Appointed Representative Services/Electronic Records Express - Registered representatives with a recognized notice of appointment in a case should continue to use the “Upload New File” function when viewing a claimant’s electronic folder in Appointed Representative Services (ARS) to upload documents. This process does not require a barcode. Alternatively, representatives can also submit documents with a barcode using the “Send Individual Response” function in ARS and Electronic Records Express (ERE). Registered representatives should use these methods to submit any documents to us electronically, whenever possible.
Fax and e-Fax – Claimants and Representatives can use a physical fax machine or their own e-fax solution to send documents. Sending documents to us via fax now delivers a secure, electronic copy to the specific hearing office’s designated email inbox. To submit documents electronically via fax, simply use the toll-free fax number with area code “833” assigned to the servicing hearing office. You can find your local hearing office e-Fax number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator.
“Contact OHO” email – Representatives registered through Appointed Representative Services can use the “Contact OHO Office” function to send a one-way communication, including the written notice of appointment, such as the SSA-1696, to a designated email box for the servicing hearing office.
What is the best way for me to submit a fee petition?
When an appointed representative receives a hearing decision and intends to file a fee petition, the most efficient way to submit the fee petition is to submit the petition with the “Contact OHO Office” feature in Appointed Representatives Services (ARS).
For appointed representatives submitting fee petitions who do not have Electronic Records Express access or those who were previously terminated/ended their services prior to the case being closed out, please fax the fee petition to the hearing office using the e-Fax number, which can be found using our Hearing Office Locator.
What safety protocols must I follow to visit a Social Security office?
Due to COVID-19, you must have a scheduled appointment to enter an office. Only you may enter the facility unless you have made additional arrangements when you scheduled your appointment.
Effective July 20, 2020, everyone must complete a self-assessment checklist before allowed entry. You will not be permitted to enter if you answer yes to any of these questions:
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
Cough or sore throat;
Fever (100.4 degrees or higher);
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
Muscle pain or body aches;
New loss of taste or smell; or
Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
In the last 14 days, have you:
Been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Received instructions to monitor for symptoms or self-quarantine?
Traveled outside the country? or
Been within 6 feet of a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you answer YES to any of these questions, or if you feel ill, you will not be allowed to enter. Call the office to reschedule your appointment. If you do not have the phone number, use our Office Locator to find the phone number.
If you can answer NO to both questions, you must wear a face covering over your mouth and nose to enter the facility. If you do not have a mask, we will provide you with one. If you are unable to wear a face covering, call the office and ask to speak with the manager.
For your safety, Social Security employees are required to follow the same self-assessment checklist and are required to wear a face covering.
Where can I get answers to my economic impact payment (EIP) questions?
If you do not see the answer to your question, you can call the Internal Revenue Service’s EIP hotline at 1-800-919-9835. The Social Security Administration cannot answer EIP questions about your specific situation.
Can SSA help me by phone?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking the public to first try to use our online services before calling us.
Although our offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors, our employees are answering your calls. You can find the phone number for your local office by using our Field Office Locator and looking under Social Security Office Information. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.
You may also call our National 800 Number, where you may be able to take care of your business by using one of our automated telephone services without having to wait for a telephone agent. If you need to speak with an agent, be aware that wait times may be longer than usual, which is why we encourage you to try our online services or call your local office first.
How can I find out if my Social Security office is open?
None of our Social Security offices can accommodate walk-in visitors until further notice. In-person service is by appointment only and for limited, dire need situations. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, we are still able to provide critical services. If you have a critical situation that we cannot help you with by phone, online, fax, or mail, we may be able to schedule an in-office appointment for you.
How can I get a new or replacement Social Security number card?
A Social Security number (SSN) is important because you need it to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, and get some other government services. However, please note that you may not need the physical SSN card for many of these services.
New Card Requests
We assign the vast majority of SSNs and issue SSN cards at birth. We will continue to process new card requests through our automated processes for newborns as part of the hospital registration process (we call that process Enumeration at Birth). We will also continue to process SSNs and issue cards for certain lawful immigrants [we call these processes Enumeration at Entry (EAE) and Enumeration beyond Entry (EBE)].
If these automated processes are not available to you, we will schedule an in-office appointment for a new card request for those with a critical need. Appointment availability is based on available staff and office operating status. Please call your local office to see if an in-office appointment is necessary and possible. To contact your local office, please look for the local office telephone number at Social Security Office Locator under “Social Security Office Information” for the office you select. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.
Replacement Card Requests
You may be able to request a replacement card online with your personal mySocial Security account. Visit our Social Security Number and Card page to learn how. If you cannot request a replacement card online, call your local office and request that we mail you an SSN printout instead of a replacement Social Security card. Unfortunately, we are unable to process replacement Social Security card requests by phone at this time.
How can I get help from SSA?
While our offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors due to COVID-19, we remain committed to providing ongoing benefits and vital services. You can still get our help by using our online services or calling us. If you have a critical situation that we cannot help you with by phone, online, fax, or mail, we may be able to schedule an in-office appointment for you.
If you cannot use our online services, we can help with certain critical issues by phone and mail.
Will SSA provide in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you have a critical situation we cannot help you with by phone, online, fax, or mail, we may be able to schedule an in-office appointment for you. We remain unable to provide service to walk-in visitors due to the pandemic.
These decisions protect the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the pandemic.
How will SSA process my notice of appointment while emergency procedures are in place?
We have temporary procedures to allow you to use different methods to sign the notice of appointment of a representative and fee agreement, if the fee agreement is submitted with the new notice of appointment, during the current COVID-19 health emergency. During this time, if we receive an appointment document such as the Form SSA-1696 and your signature appears to be an electronic or digital signature, we will make three attempts to contact you to verify your identity and confirm the signature. If we verify your identity and signature, we will process the appointment as usual. If we cannot reach you and you do not return our call, or do not verify the signature, we will return the paperwork to the person who submitted it without recognizing the appointment.
We also have temporary procedures in place permitting you to verbally appoint a representative during a “remote” telephone hearing with an administrative law judge, if you submit a written notice of appointment afterwards. In this case, we will accept an electronic signature on the written appointment notice, without needing to call you again.
State on the form “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)”
If possible, your employer should complete Section B.
If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion on behalf of your employer without your employers signature and submit one of the following forms of secondary evidence:
income tax form that shows health insurance premiums paid;
W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions;
pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions;
health insurance cards with a policy effective date;
explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP; or
statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.
I received financial assistance under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Will this affect my Supplemental Security Income payment?
We do not consider Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund financial assistance as income or a resource for SSI purposes. Receipt of this assistance will not affect your SSI payment.
Will unemployment benefits affect my Supplemental Security Income payment?
Unemployment insurance benefits are considered unearned income. If you, your spouse, or a child living in your household have any income other than your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment, including unemployment insurance benefits, you must tell us.
Will unemployment benefits affect my Social Security benefits?
Unemployment benefits do not affect or reduce retirement and disability benefits. State unemployment compensation payments are not wages because they are paid due to unemployment rather than employment. However, income from Social Security may reduce your unemployment compensation.
Contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction.
I had a scheduled appointment, what do I need to do?
If you already have a scheduled appointment, we will attempt to contact you by phone at your appointment time and/or reschedule for a telephone appointment.
Note: Scammers may try to take advantage of this situation. Remember that our employees will never threaten you or ask for any form of immediate payment.
Will I still have my hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who was assigned to my case?
Generally, yes. Our ALJs are available to hold telephone hearings. In the event a technical difficulty arises before your hearing and we need to reassign your case to another ALJ, we will follow our typical instructions on backfilling, which are available in HALLEX I-2-1-55F.
Is Representative Payee monitoring continuing during the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Yes. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Protection and Advocacy (P&A) networks will conduct any new representative payee monitoring reviews by phone or mail to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines. The P&As are also completing pending reviews initiated before the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also have information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.
Will SSA extend our deadlines to provide documentation and other information?
Yes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending deadlines wherever possible.
If we asked you to contact us by a certain date, please do not come to the office. You can contact us once our offices reopen to the public or you can mail your documents to us. We will follow up with you once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
We are providing maximum flexibility in applying our good cause policy. This policy allows us to extend the time limits for submitting appeals and taking other actions during this pandemic.
How can I stay updated about what SSA is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Please continue to check this web page for updates. You may select Subscribe above to receive alerts from us when we add or change information on this page.