Recently, we notified you that we are no longer accepting faxed applications. We appreciate the feedback we received on the notification and want to provide clarifying information.
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our services and the public’s ability to apply for benefits in person. In response, we implemented various temporary flexibilities – temporary changes to our policies and business processes. These flexibilities included accepting faxed applications as validly signed applications if they contained a legible, handwritten signature. Prior to this change, we did not consider any faxed applications to be validly signed. When we received a faxed application prior to implementing the temporary flexibility, we contacted the claimant to go over the information provided on the application and obtain their signature. We generally contacted the claimant to obtain their signature over the phone as permitted by our alternative signature policy.
With the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency as of May 11, 2023, we evaluated our temporary flexibilities and decided to discontinue accepting faxed applications. Since we have reopened our offices to walk-in traffic and expanded in-person services, we determined that continuing to accept signatures on faxed applications was no longer justified given the risk that bad actors could use faxed applications to commit fraud. However, you can still use a fax to help your clients. Although we will no longer accept faxed, signed applications as valid applications, a claimant can still submit a faxed application to establish a protective filing date. Upon receiving the faxed application, we will contact the claimant or a proper applicant, go over the information provided, and obtain a signature to validate the application. In addition, advocates or representatives can continue to fax the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) model consent or unsigned application to establish intent to file and establish protective filing dates.
For people who are comfortable using online services, we do offer the online protective filing tool to establish a protective filing and request an appointment. We are also working on implementing a new online, streamlined SSI application by the end of the calendar year.