Tag: COVID-19

Where Do I Get Help With SSDI Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Where Do I Get Help With SSDI Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

SSDI appeal process

With SSA office closures in effect since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, getting help with your social security disability claim may seem more difficult than ever. Many services can be accessed online, but what if you have questions about your benefits? Who can you talk to about the SSDI appeal process if your claim has been denied?

At Social Security Disability Advocates USA, we’re committed to remaining available to our clients through safe and secure avenues such as by phone, email, video, and when the time is right, in person. Find out more about how to get assistance with your claim, including applying for the first time, checking your application status, and appealing your case.

How Long Will Social Security Administration Field Offices Remain Closed?

The Social Security Administration has not yet released a reopening date for SSA field offices and hearing offices. Citing concern for older Americans and those with underlying medical conditions that may make them more susceptible to COVID-19, the SSA will likely remain closed until coronavirus transmission rates decline considerably. 

Which SSA Services Are Available Online and by Phone?

Fortunately, although physical offices remain closed to the public, SSA offers many services online or by telephone. Online services include:

  • Applying for benefits
  • Checking the status of an application or appeal
  • Accessing proof of your benefits
  • Changing your contact information
  • Updating direct deposit information
  • Appealing a decision
  • Estimating your retirement benefits
  • Requesting a replacement Social Security or Medicare card

For services that can be accessed via telephone, call the agency’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Please be advised that wait times will likely be longer than usual and that hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Automated telephone services are available 24/7 for certain services. Visit https://www.ssa.gov/agency/contact/ for more information, including resources for those who are visually impaired, hard of hearing, or require a translator.

How Does the SSDI Appeal Process Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

If you applied for Social Security Disability Insurance and had your claim denied, you’re not alone. In fact, most first-time SSDI applications are denied, often due to a lack of sufficient medical evidence of your disability. This is where the SSDI appeal process comes in.

There are four levels of disability appeals, including reconsideration, hearings, review by the Appeals Council and, should these fail, filing a lawsuit in federal court. 

Appealing a disability denial can be a long and arduous process, especially now that hearing offices are closed due to the pandemic. Claimants may face longer wait times and remote telephone hearings instead of in-person appeals. You may also have a more difficult time accessing the medical records and other documents you need to prove your case and meet strict deadlines.

How Can a Social Security Disability Representative Help?

Even under the best of circumstances, applying for benefits or traversing the SSDI appeal process can be complex and lengthy. When you contact a SSDI attorney at Social Security Disability Advocates, you’ll have access to an experienced professional with the specific knowledge you need to resolve your case as quickly and favorably as possible.

We’ll assist you every step of the way, from requesting and gathering all the necessary documentation to arranging and representing you in a video hearing to appeal the decision on your case. Even during the pandemic, our office remains committed to serving our most vulnerable populations in need. We will do whatever we can to accommodate you, including offering a free consultation via phone or video to discuss your case.

Call us today at 602-952-3200. You can also get in touch with us via LiveChat, or by submitting the details of your case using our secure contact form

For more information, check out the ultimate disability secrets you need to know before filing your claim.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For

COVID-19 Scams to Watch Out For

COVID-19 scams

During these turbulent times, it’s more important than ever to help keep yourself and your family safe. Unfortunately, scammers and thieves alike will use this time to attempt to prey upon those who are vulnerable. Learn how to identify the latest COVID-19 scams with these helpful tips.

1. Social Security Benefits Are NOT Affected by COVID-19

Social security scams have been around for a long time, but many scammers are using the novel coronavirus to scare victims into divulging their personal information or giving them money. 

If you receive a letter, phone call, text message, or email from someone claiming that your social security disability benefits or your retirement benefits have been suspended or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is an obvious tip-off that someone is trying to scam you.

Although SSA offices remain closed, social security payments will continue as scheduled per the Social Security Office of the Inspector General.

2. The IRS Will Not Ask For Your Payment Information

With the recent disbursement of coronavirus stimulus checks, the IRS has seen an uptick in fraudulent activity and COVID-19 scams. Scammers may contact you through phone, email, or regular mail asking for your banking information in order to process your economic impact payment. 

Please be aware that direct deposit information used to file your 2018 or 2019 taxes will most likely be used to send your coronavirus stimulus check. If direct deposit information is not available, the IRS will send you a paper check by USPS mail. The IRS will not contact you asking for this information.

The only secure way to check the status of your economic impact payment is by using the IRS Get My Payment tool. If you did not file taxes for 2018 or 2019, you can also safely update your payment information on the IRS website.

3. COVID-19 Tests Are Not Available Door-to-Door or by Mail 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some scammers have reportedly attempted to sell fake COVID-19 tests either over the phone, through email, or door-to-door. The scammer will usually ask the victim for their personal details, including Medicare information, in exchange for a COVID-19 test. 

The scammer can use your personal information to fraudulently bill federal health care programs or commit medical identity theft. Remember, the only way to obtain a legitimate COVID-19 test at this time is from a licensed medical provider or at an official testing center.

4. Additional Tips to Avoid Scams

In addition to the tips outlined above, there are other more general things you can do to protect yourself from potential scams. These include:

  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers may use tactics like spoofing to make fraudulent phone numbers that look like they are coming from the IRS or another agency. Do not divulge personal information based on the caller ID alone. Remember, the SSA and IRS will not ask for these details over the phone.
  • If someone is asking you to wire money or purchase gift cards, this is most likely a scam. Do not engage with callers or emails asking for these kinds of transfers. Report suspected COVID-19 scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling 1-866-720-5721 or by emailing [email protected].
  • The SSA will never suspend your social security number or your bank accounts. Anyone who tries to persuade you to divulge information or pay money to avoid these suspensions is a scammer.

The best way to avoid scams is to stay informed. The more often you can recognize these scammers and frauds for what they are, the less likely you are to inadvertently compromise your personal information or benefits. 

To find out more about protecting your SSDA and retirement benefits contact the SSA office directly. If you need assistance applying for or appealing your disability claim, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today at 602-952-3200. You can also get in touch by using our LiveChat service, or by filling out our secure contact form.

Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

SSA Office Closures

This week, the Social Security Administration announced widespread SSA office closures effective March 17, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 1,200 offices essentially shuttered across the country, many disabled or elderly beneficiaries have been left wondering what will happen to their benefits, case appeals, etc. 

During these uncertain times, Social Security Disability Advocates USA would like to reassure our current, past, and prospective clients that although we intend to comply with any and all mandates regarding non-essential business closures, our legal team will be available remotely to assist our most vulnerable population whenever possible. 

If you are in need of immediate assistance regarding social security, contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

How Long Will SSA Office Closures Last?

At this time, the Social Security Administration has not specified how long its offices will remain closed, citing safety concerns affecting older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions in addition to its employees. 

Updates regarding SSA office closures can be found here.

What if I Had An Appointment At My Local SSA Office?

If you had an appointment scheduled after March 17, 2020, contact your local SSA office. Although all offices are currently closed to the public, many are still staffed by SSA employees assisting patrons over the phone and online. If your local office is not accepting calls, you can call the national number listed above.

Which Social Security Services Can Be Completed Online?

The good news for those with canceled in-office appointments is that many services related to social security can be completed online at ssa.gov/onlineservices/. These services include:

  • Applying for benefits (retirement, disability, medicare)
  • Appealing a decision
  • Checking your application status
  • Estimating retirement benefits
  • Reviewing your earnings history & statements
  • Accessing your 1099
  • Setting up direct deposit
  • Viewing proof of your benefits

What Services Are Available to the Severely Disabled?

For those whose disabilities make it impossible to access services remotely, some SSA field offices will allow in-person assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This service will only be available to those with dire circumstances, including:

  • Reinstatement of benefits due to extreme situations
  • Assistance for those who are blind, deaf, or otherwise significantly disabled
  • Those suffering from terminal illness
  • Those with critical needs for eligibility decisions regarding Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid

Those who require these crucial in-person services must call in advance. 

Will I Continue to Receive My Benefits?

In short, the more than 69-million people who receive benefits will continue to receive their monthly payments regardless of the SSA office closures. The COVID-19 pandemic has no bearing on payments at this time, whether you receive your benefits via mail or by direct deposit. 

The Social Security Administration does recommend that those receiving payments by mail set up direct deposit online, which allows payments to be received more quickly, efficiently, and securely. It also prevents any mail delivery delays that may occur within the United States Postal Service.

Should I Be Worried About Social Security Scams?

There have unfortunately been some reports of social security scams via threatening robocalls and infectious computer malware in the midst of the pandemic. The Better Business Bureau released an advisory letting Americans know which scams to watch for during this precarious time.

Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration will never send threatening letters or emails demanding immediate payment or personal information such as your social security number.

For more on the ultimate disability secrets and information about how to get the most monthly compensation for your disability, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

Where to Get Additional Help With Your SSDI Claim

We understand that SSA office closures come during a particularly troubling time for many, especially those who rely on government assistance to pay their bills and feed their families. If you need legal assistance with your disability claim, Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here to help. Call us at 602-952-3200 to speak with an experienced social security lawyer. You can also chat online with a live representative, or submit the details of your claim using our secure contact form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.