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What fraud and scams should I know about?

Date:

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!

No government agency will contact you offering COVID-19-related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, an advance fee, or 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 walk-in visitors. 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. Scammers are increasing their efforts to swindle people out of their money and personal information. These scams can including contracting, treatment, vaccines, government imposter scams, and fraud related to economic impact payments. We encourage you to learn about all COVID-19-related fraud and scams, and to report the scams you see.

Getting vaccinated is very important.  As more people are eligible to get vaccinated, scammers see new opportunities to trick you.  The FTC and the National Association of Attorneys General are teaming up to remind you that no matter what anyone tells you, you cannot buy COVID-19 vaccines online and there’s no out-of-pocket cost to get the shots.  COVID-19 vaccines are free. The FTC website lists some ways to avoid vaccine-related scams.  If you know about a COVID-19 vaccine scam, tell the FTC about it. You can also file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) is alerting financial institutions about Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud. They have identified multiple fraud schemes, including identity-related fraud, in which filers submit applications for UI payments using stolen or fake identification to receive payments. You can find more information on the Department of Labor's website.

Where can I get answers to my economic impact payment (EIP) questions?

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The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The Act provides important financial relief to millions of American. The IRS has paid EIPs to tens of millions of Americans, including Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients. Our web page about the Third Economic Impact Payment provides a great deal of information about EIPs.

Please remember only the IRS can answer questions about economic impact payments. Please do not contact the Social Security Administration

Does Social Security have a plan that addresses the health and safety of its employees and the public in its offices?

Date:

Yes. In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Safer Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles memorandum (M-21-15) on the President’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing, we have created a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. This plan is a living document. We will update it to incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of Management and Budget.

How can a representative help me with my Social Security claim?

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You may appoint a qualified person to represent you when doing business with Social Security. Use Form SSA-1696-U4, Appointment of Representative to tell us in writing about the person you appoint. You can send the completed, signed, and dated document to your local Social Security office, but for faster service ask your representative to initiate an e1696. Your representative must give us a valid email address for you. With this service, you can complete, sign, and submit your appointment of a representative online, safely and quickly.

A representative generally cannot charge or collect a fee for these services without written approval from us.

See Your Right To Representation for more information.

Where can I read SSA’s program policy information?

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We have a publically accessible version of our Program Operations Manual System (POMS) at our Public Policy web page. The POMS is a primary source of information used by our employees to process claims for Social Security benefits. This public version of POMS is identical to the version used by our employees, except that it does not include internal data entry and sensitive content instructions. The POMS web page provides a table of contents so you can browse by category, and read recent policy changes, emergency messages, and more.

How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for my child while offices are closed to walk-in visitors?

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Applying for SSI for a child requires two steps – completing the Application for SSI and the Child Disability Report. We encourage you to complete the Childhood Disability Report online. After you submit the report, a Social Security representative will call you within 3-5 business days and complete the application for SSI with you. You can find more information at Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children.

How will SSA process my notice of appointment while emergency procedures are in place?

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Beginning March 11, 2021, we have revised our 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, on its own or along with an SSA-8000, SSA-8001, SSA-L2, SSA-820, SSA-821, SSA-827, or SSA-455 form, 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 the first attempt to reach you by telephone is unsuccessful, we also will send a call-in letter to you and the representative you requested. 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.

These temporary procedures and more details can be found here.

What do I do if I have missed the deadline to file my hearing request?

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We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may create situations that constitute good cause for failing to timely file your request for hearing after receiving a prior denial on your claim. To assist you in providing an explanation for why you have missed the deadline to request a hearing during the pandemic, we will mail you a notice requesting a written explanation for the untimely filing if you have not already provided an explanation. This notice will give you an opportunity to explain why you were unable to file your hearing request on time. Although the notice we use to request a showing of good cause for untimely filing (i.e., Form HA-L61) identifies a shorter timeframe for a response, we will provide 30 days from the date on the request before we will issue a dismissal, to account for potential mail delivery and processing delays.

What do I do if I miss my hearing?

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If you missed your hearing time, please call the hearing office right away at the phone number listed on your Notice of Hearing. If you do not have your Notice of Hearing, you can find your local hearing office phone number by visiting our Hearing Office Locator.

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may create situations that constitute good cause for failing to appear at your scheduled hearing. To assist you in explaining why you have missed your hearing date during the pandemic, we will mail you a notice (called a “Request to Show Cause for Failure to Appear”). This notice will give you an opportunity to explain why you did not appear for your telephone hearing. Although the notice we use to request a showing of good cause for failure to appear (i.e., Form HA-L90) identifies a shorter timeframe for a response, we will provide 30 days from the date on the request before we will issue a dismissal, to account for potential mail delivery and processing delays.

I just changed my name and need to change it with SSA. What documents do I need to mail with my SSN application to get a replacement card with my new name?

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If you recently changed your name (e.g., due to marriage, divorce, other), you must show us proof of legal name change and identity.

NOTE: If the document meets certain criteria, you may only need to mail us your SSN card application and your original or certified name change document. The name change document can be used as both an identity and name change document if it is not a birth certificate and the name change event occurred within the past two years and has the applicant’s prior name and biographical information (such as age, date of birth, or parent’s names), which matches data on our records. This is only for name change situations. For more information, see RM 10212.015D.

Below are examples of acceptable documents for a name change:

  • Proof of Name Change
    • Marriage document
    • Divorce Decree
    • Certificate of Naturalization showing the new name
    • Court order approving the name change
  • Proof of Identity
    • U.S. Driver’s license
    • State issued identity card
    • U.S. passport or U.S. diplomatic passport
    • U.S. Military identification card
    • School identity card or certified copy of school record with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Health Insurance or U.S. Medicaid card with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Certificate of Citizenship
    • U.S. Indian Tribal ID card
    • Final adoption decree
    • Certified copy of medical record
    • Life insurance policy with biographical information

What if I need to apply for a replacement SSN card and my only option is to mail my application and identity documentation? Since I need my driver’s license (DL) to drive, is there an alternative to mailing my DL, State Identification card or passport?

Date:

Usually, a SSN card applicant must submit the document with the highest quality for proving identity. We call this a primary identity document. In most cases, for a U.S. citizen, this is a State-issued driver’s license. If the primary identity document is not available, (available means the document exists and the applicant can access or obtain it within 10 business days) we would then allow a person to submit an original secondary form of identity.

SSA is temporarily allowing people to mail in an original or certified secondary identity document with their paper Social Security Number application (SS-5) if they cannot request a replacement SSN card online. Acceptable secondary level identity documents must meet the rigorous document evaluation standards for authenticity, and have biographical data such as date of birth, age, etc.

Below are examples of primary and secondary level documents that are acceptable.

  • Primary
    • Driver’s license
    • State issued identity card
    • U.S. passport
  • Secondary
    • U.S. diplomatic passport
    • Military identification card
    • Certificate of Naturalization
    • Certificate of Citizenship
    • U.S. Indian Tribal ID card
    • Final adoption decree
    • Certified copy of medical record
    • Health Insurance or U.S. Medicaid card with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • School identity card or certified copy of school record with biographical information such as DOB, age, etc.
    • Life insurance policy with biographical information
    • Marriage document

For a list of additional acceptable secondary level identity documents, see chart in RM 10210.420.

How can I file an appeal if Social Security offices are closed for walk-in service?

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Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. There are four levels of appeal:

  • Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2),
  • Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge (HA-501-U5), or
  • Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order (HA-520-U5)
  • Federal Court review.

The letter we sent you tells you the level of appeal that you need to file. Once you select the appropriate appeal, follow the online instructions to complete and submit it electronically.

Mail or Fax a completed form

You may also send us a completed appeal form for reconsideration, hearing by an administrative law judge, or review of hearing decision/order by fax or mail. You can download the appeal forms from our forms webpage, complete, print, and then mail or fax the form to your local Social Security office. You can find the local office fax number and address from the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code. Follow the instructions on the Appeal a Decision page for the Federal Court review.

If you still have questions about sending us an appeal online, by mail, or fax, please call 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form to complete and send back to us.

How do I appeal an overpayment or ask to pay a lower rate of recovery?

Date:

You can still file an appeal by taking one of the following actions.

If you disagree with the overpayment

If you do not agree that you have been overpaid, or if you believe the amount is incorrect, you can appeal the overpayment online by requesting a Reconsideration for a Non-Medical Determination.

You can also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the address for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code.

If you need to change the rate of recovery

If you agree that you have been overpaid and are willing to pay it back but cannot afford to repay at the rate we tell you in the letter, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code.

I did not file my appeal because Social Security offices are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am now past the date for filing my appeal. Can I still file an appeal?

Date:

Yes, you may still file an appeal request. When you fill out your appeal request, be sure to include a statement explaining the delay in filing your appeal. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSA will extend good cause for late filing in many situations.

I received a letter from Social Security that says my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment will change unless I file an appeal within 10 days. How can I file this appeal if Social Security offices are closed to the public?

Date:

Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. Select “Reconsideration” and then the “Request Non-Medical Reconsideration” button. Follow the instructions on the screens to complete and submit the appeal electronically.

Send Us a Form by Mail or Fax

You may also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the local office fax number and address from the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code.

If you still have questions about filing an appeal on online, by mail, or fax, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form to complete and send back to us.

My Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment has changed or stopped. I did not receive a letter in advance, or I did receive a letter, but it is now more than 10 days since I received the letter. What can I do?

Date:

You can still file an appeal by taking one of the following actions.

Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. Select “Reconsideration” and then the “Request Non-Medical Reconsideration” button.Follow the instructions on the screens to complete and submit the appeal electronically. When you file your appeal, be sure to include a statement on the appeal request (or on a separate sheet of paper that you include with the appeal request) that explains why you are filing your request late.

Send Us a Form by Mail

You may also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the address for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code. When you file your appeal, be sure to include a statement on the appeal request (or on a separate sheet of paper that you include with the appeal request) that explains why you are filing your request late.

If you still have questions about filing an appeal online, by mail, or fax, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form for you to complete and then send back to us.

Can I enroll in Medicare?

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If you enrolled in Medicare Part A and would like to enroll in Part B under the Special Enrollment Period (SEP), you can apply online at Apply for Medicare Part B Online during a Special Enrollment Period. You can upload your application and documents that verify your group health plan coverage through your employer.

You can also fax or mail your completed CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance) and the CMS-L564, Request for Employment Information enrollment forms and evidence of employment to your local Social Security office. If you have questions, please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Note: When completing the forms CMS-40B and CMS-L564:

  • State, “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS-40B form or online application.
  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best as you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
  • Also, 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.
    • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

I received a letter claiming to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) with an 800# I do not recognize. Is it really from SSA?

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We routinely release outreach notices in an effort to identify people eligible for Social Security benefits. From December 2020 through March 2021, we are mailing outreach notices to people who may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. SSI makes payments to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

We established a dedicated phone line with a team of specialized employees to help people who receive this notice. These employees are SSI experts who will help callers explore eligibility and assist with SSI applications, if appropriate at the time of the call. We also established a separate phone number for people to call who need help in Spanish.

Someone filed an unemployment claim using my information and it wasn’t me. What can I do?

Date:

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) has identified multiple fraud schemes in which filers submit applications for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits using other people’s information. Receiving unemployment benefits could affect the amount of monthly benefits you receive. If you believe you are a victim of this fraud scheme:

  • Contact your appropriate State fraud UI hotline to report the fraud. The Department of Labor has phone numbers for each state fraud hotline.
  • When you report the fraud, request that they provide you with written documentation that you have reported the alleged fraud. At a minimum, request a case number for your fraud report, and write down the case number, the name of the person you spoke to, and the time and date of your call.
  • Retain this information, along with any written confirmations, to ensure you can provide evidence that you reported the fraud if you need it later.
  • If you receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, and you suspect UI fraud, contact your local Social Security Office immediately.

How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

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During the pandemic, we continue to take applications for SSI. You, or someone on your behalf, may submit an application for SSI. Please visit www.ssa.gov/benefits/ssi/ to learn how to apply. We include information about applying for an adult or a child, and how you can appeal if your SSI application was denied.

Can I request a waiver for an overpayment debt incurred during COVID-19?

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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.

We developed instructions for our employees to process streamlined waiver requests. Although the instructions are marked sensitive, this version has been redacted under the Freedom of Information Act for public release.

I am a non-citizen and Social Security says they need to see my DHS lawful presence documents to pay my benefits. Should I mail them to my local office?

Date:

No. Do not mail any DHS lawful presence documents to SSA. If they are needed, your local office will contact you to possibly schedule an appointment to review and certify your original documentation.

I filed an application for benefits. What evidence do I need to provide to begin receiving payments and how can I provide SSA the information while offices are closed to walk-in visitors?

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The evidence you need to provide depends on a number of factors, including the type of benefit you applied for, your citizenship status, and what information may already be available in our records. When evidence is necessary we will contact you. In many cases, you may be able to mail-in the original evidence and we will return the documents to you as soon as possible. However, if you need to provide evidence that you cannot mail-in (e.g., Department of Homeland Security lawful presence documents) please let us know. We may be able to offer you an in-office appointment, depending on availability.

What if I can’t get the original or certified documents that SSA needs to approve my benefits application? Can I send a photocopy?

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We generally need to see original or certified evidence, but we may be able to temporarily pay your ongoing benefits during the pandemic based on the information you can provide now, and review the original evidence at a later date. Please let us know if you are unable to obtain or provide us needed evidence due to the pandemic. You can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

Am I required to have my hearing by telephone or by online video?

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No. Telephone or online video hearings are not mandatory; however, as our hearing offices will remain closed for the foreseeable future, we encourage you to consider a telephone or an online video 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, an online video hearing, or ask us to postpone your hearing. If you do not want a telephone or an online video 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 or an online video hearing and later change your mind, please contact your local hearing office to have your hearing scheduled.

How can I prepare for my telephone or online video hearing?

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Just like for an in-person or video hearing, there will be a number of participants on the telephone or online video 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.

For detailed information on how to prepare for your telephone hearing and what to expect during your hearing, visit https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_phone.html.

For detailed information on how to prepare for your online video hearing and what to expect during your hearing, visit https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_video.html. In addition, visit the Online Video Hearing Lobby to set up your device before your online video hearing. For assistance, reference the Online Video Hearing User Guide.

How can I submit the documentation required to ensure I am appropriately appointed as my claimant’s representative before the hearing?

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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. Representatives who are registered for Appointed Representative Services (ARS) can use the “Contact OHO Office” function in Electronic Records Express (ERE) to submit the duly executed appointment document directly to a designated email box for the servicing hearing office. You can find additional information about the “Contact OHO Office” tool at https://www.ssa.gov/ar. If you are not registered for ARS, you can use a physical fax machine or e-fax to send the document to the specific hearing office’s email, using the toll-free fax number with area code “833” assigned to the servicing hearing office.

How will your offices acquire consent for participating in the hearing?

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  • At this time, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are only able to conduct hearings by telephone and online video until we resume our standard operations.
  • For hearing requests filed on or after December 7, 2020, we will send a special notice 30 days after we acknowledge receipt of the claimant’s hearing request.
  • With this notice, we will include a form to confirm if you agree to appear at your hearing by telephone or by online video. The notice will provide instructions on how and when to return this form to us.
  • The claimant’s appointed representative may sign the form in lieu of the claimant.
  • We also will accept a verbal agreement to appear by telephone or online video.
  • We will not schedule, or proceed with a hearing by telephone or online video unless we receive the claimant’s consent. If the claimant does not consent to appear by telephone or online video, 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 in person, as appropriate.

If your offices are not conducting in-person hearings, will I still have my hearing?

Date:

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 online video. We encourage people who need a decision on their claim to agree to a telephone or an online video hearing. To learn more about hearings options offered during this time, visit https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_options.html.

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.

Will I still have my hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who was assigned to my case?

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Generally, yes. Our ALJs are available to hold telephone and online video 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.

I requested an appeal of my overpayment or other non-disability matter. How can I find out the status of my pending appeal?

Date:

We suspended processing of non-disability appeals between March and September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have an appeal pending on an overpayment or other non-disability matter, your local office can provide status.

SSA ended my disability benefits because of a CDR determination. I submitted a request for reconsideration to appeal SSA’s decision, but I did not elect that my disability benefits should continue. Can I now request that my benefits continue (or resume) until there is a determination on my appeal?

Date:

Yes. You may, at any time, submit a late request to continue (or resume) your benefits while we make a determination on your appeal. We will grant the request if you provide a good reason. We have experienced delays in processing certain requests for reconsideration of initial disability cessation determinations (including age-18 redeterminations) during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We will accept this delay as a good reason to resume benefit payments when you file a late request and the following apply:

  • The determination notice ending your disability benefits (notice of cessation) is dated on or before August 30, 2020; and
  • Your request for reconsideration of the cessation determination is still pending with us.

Am I eligible for an in-person appointment during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Date:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can only enter our offices if you have an appointment. For more information regarding appointment availability for your situation, please select the statement that applies to you:

I need help with benefits

Generally, we will schedule an in-person appointment in limited, critical situations. Limited, critical situations exist when you:

  • Are without food or shelter, including utilities or are without medical care or coverage and need to apply for or reinstate benefits.
  • Currently receive benefits and have an urgent need for payment to meet expenses for food, shelter, or medical treatment, and you cannot receive the payment electronically.

If you believe you qualify for an in-person appointment, call your local office. You can look up the phone number for your local office by accessing our office locator. Please note that appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.

I need help with my Social Security Number (SSN)

We are prioritizing requests for in-person SSN services for:

  • Individuals age 12 or older applying for their first SSN card.
  • Individuals who need to update or correct their SSN information (such as your name, date of birth, or citizenship) to obtain income, resources, or medical care or coverage, or other services or benefits (for example filing a tax return, applying for housing, or seeking an Economic Impact Payment).

If you believe you qualify for an in-person appointment, call your local office. You can look up the phone number for your local office by accessing our office locator. Please note that appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing.

How do I replace my Social Security card if I do not qualify for an in-person appointment?

You may be able to request a replacement Social Security card online with your personal my Social Security account, which is easy to set up if you do not already have one. Or, you can ask us for a replacement card by completing and mailing the Social Security card application with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously confirmed this information, to your local office. We will return your proof(s) to you.

To find out what documents we need to issue a replacement Social Security Number card, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card. To update the date of birth in our records, applicants must also submit an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the correct date of birth. To update the name in our records, applicants must also submit a recent document that identifies them in both their old and new names. For additional information, please read the instructions on the Social Security card application.

Because we are experiencing slight delays processing mail-in SSN card applications, it may take us between two and four weeks to process the application and return the evidence.

Do I Need to Show My Social Security Card?

It is important to know that your Social Security card is not an identification document, and in many situations, you only need to know your Social Security Number (you do not need the physical Social Security card). You can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

The following list includes common situations where you think you may need your Social Security card, but other alternatives exist:

For evidence for work: A Social Security card is one of several documents listed as acceptable to establish work authorization on Form I-9. Other examples of acceptable documents include:

  • Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by State, county, municipal authority, or territory of the United States bearing an official seal,
  • Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551),
  • Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766), or
  • Form I-94 or Form I-94A.

For evidence for Department of Motor Vehicle / Driver’s License (REAL ID): The deadline to obtain a Real ID is October 1, 2021. Only Georgia and Pennsylvania require the physical Social Security card as evidence. Other documents listing your full Social Security Number may be acceptable for the Real ID including:

  • A W-2 form,
  • A SSA-1099 form,
  • A non-SSA-1099 form, or
  • A pay stub with your name and SSN on it.

Check with your state's Driver's Licensing Agency for more information.

For Tax Purposes: You do not need your Social Security card. To obtain your Social Security Number, you may call your local Social Security office to request that we mail you an SSN printout. It is important that your name on your Social Security card matches your name with the IRS when you file your taxes. To correct your name or other information on your Social Security card, you can request a corrected card by completing the paper application and mailing it with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously seen these to your local office. We will return your proof to you. To find out what documents we need to update your name visit, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card.

To Receive Other Benefits: You may need your Social Security Number to get benefits or assistance such as housing, health insurance, or food assistance, but you should not need your Social Security card. If you need to provide proof of your Social Security Number, call your local Social Security office to ask that we mail you an SSN printout. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should be able to verify your Social Security Number and if you receive benefits from Social Security without requiring you show or request a replacement Social Security Card.

To help with school enrollment: Contact the school administration to ask if you can provide an SSN printout instead of a Social Security Number card. You can request an SSN printout by calling your local Social Security office.

If you need to obtain forms of proof, you can find out how to replace lost, destroyed, or stolen identification documents (including your birth certificate, driver’s license, or Department of Homeland Security documents) by visiting www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents.

How can I get a new or replacement Social Security number card?

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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 may schedule an in-office appointment for a new card request in certain situations. 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 Social Security card online with your personal my Social Security account, which is easy to set up if you do not already have one. Or, you can ask us for a replacement card by completing and mailing the Social Security card application with your original proof of identity, and proof of age and citizenship if we have not previously confirmed this information, to your local office. We will return your proof(s) to you.

To find out what documents we need to issue a replacement Social Security Number card, please read our fact sheet U.S. Citizen/Adult — Replacement Social Security Card. To update the date of birth in our records, applicants must also submit an original or certified copy of a birth certificate showing the correct date of birth. To update the name in our records, applicants must also submit a recent document that identifies them in both their old and new names. For additional information, please read the instructions on the Social Security card application.

Because we are experiencing slight delays processing mail-in SSN card applications, it may take us between two and four weeks to process the application and return the evidence.

There are certain situations where we may be able to make an in-office appointment to update or correct your SSN information.

What can I do online?

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You can conduct most business online with our secure and convenient online services. Our online services are available from anywhere and from any of your devices. You can:

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.

Is Representative Payee monitoring continuing during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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Yes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Protection and Advocacy (P&A) networks will conduct new representative payee monitoring reviews in-person only when state and local conditions permit and reviews can be conducted safely while social distancing with personal protective equipment (PPE). Reviews may also be conducted by video and phone. P&A grantees will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines.

Looking for information about economic impact payments (EIP) related to representative payees? We moved this information to our Economic Impact Payments Paid by the CARES Act page.

What safety protocols must I follow to visit a Social Security office?

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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. Please note that appointments are limited and only for certain situations.

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:

  1. Do you have any of the following symptoms?
    • Cough or sore throat;
    • Fever (100.4 degrees or higher);
    • Chills;
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
    • Muscle pain or body aches;
    • Headache;
    • New loss of taste or smell; or
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  2. 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.

How can I communicate with my local hearing office?

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You can communicate with your local hearing office by telephone, fax, and e-Fax.

Via telephone:

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
  • Providing status for your pending hearing.

You can find your local hearing office phone number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator.

Via fax or e-Fax:

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.

I use Appointed Representative Services or Electronic Records Express, and I am locked out of my account. What do I do?

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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 electronic-records-express@ssa.gov.

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?

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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?

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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.

Can SSA help me by phone?

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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?

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None of our Social Security offices can accommodate walk-in visitors until further notice. In-person service is by appointment only and for limited 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 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.

You can speak with a representative by calling your local Social Security office or our National 800 Number. Local office phone numbers are available online at our Social Security Office Locator. Please visit our Office Closings and Emergencies page for the latest information about office closings.

How can I get help from SSA?

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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 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.

You can do most of your business with SSA online. Before calling us, please visit our website to see our list of convenient and secure self-service options. Save time and go online.

If you cannot use our online services, we can help with certain issues by phone and mail.

I received financial assistance under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Will this affect my Supplemental Security Income payment?

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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?

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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.

To learn more about SSI and how income affects your payment, read What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Will unemployment benefits affect my Social Security benefits?

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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?

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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.

How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance?

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We are unable to answer questions about unemployment insurance as each state administers its own program. Learn more here.

Will SSA extend our deadlines to provide documentation and other information?

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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?

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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.

You also may follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our blog.

What other resources are available for information on COVID-19 and Social Security?

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COVID-19 Resources

For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, including symptoms, how to protect yourself, and travel advisories, visit these resources:

Other Information

For the latest information about our online services, status of local offices, and press releases, please visit these resources:

Will I continue to receive my Social Security benefit or Supplemental Security Income payment if I use Direct Deposit?

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Yes. You will continue to receive your monthly benefit amount if you use Direct Deposit.

Will I still receive my Social Security benefit or Supplemental Security Income payment by mail?

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Yes. Please visit the United States Postal Service for their latest statements about COVID-19. You can visit our website to learn how to sign up for Direct Deposit.