During the Covid 19 pandemic, teleconferencing has become the standard operating procedure. Attorney’s are used to having to make modifications, but claimants are having a hard time adjusting to the change. Many claimants have no way to send in documents, need hand holding during the application, or don’t have a working phone number to call and speak with an agent for social security. Currently, the Social Security Administration and the American Federation of Government Employees are in negotiations of when Social Security Administration Offices will reopen to the public. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the labor union representing many employees of the federal government. Local Social Security Offices all the way up to the Office of Hearing Operations have been operating remotely since the beginning of the pandemic. Employees have mostly been working from home.
The AFGE is asking Social Security to close most of its local field offices and allowing employees to continue teleworking to the greatest extent possible. They have stated that if the Social Security Administration wish to remain a primarily telephonic system, they have the union’s support. The argument, which holds some merit, is that the workload could be spread more evenly between busy urban locations and less busy rural locations. This may increase the speed upon which claims can be processed. Conversely, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) states that there are just some things than need to be done in person. Many of the applicants for social security disability income benefits are either elderly or homeless. This section of the public utilizes the in-person services most frequently because they are the least comfortable with computers and teleconferencing and have the least access to technology.
Although the Social Security Administration is clearing trying to improve their performance, there are many places where they are simply failing. Much of the correspondence between applicants and the Social Security Administration is the United States Post Office. Although the Social Security Administration has moved to electronic payments for beneficiaries, much of the application and appeal process is still by USPS. The social security administration sends millions of pieces of mail every year. The postal service frequently has been losing mail or delivering mail later than normal. This has been causing deadline issues for several claimants. Moreover, the Social Security Administration requests original documentation at times which they promise to return, but with so much mail being misplaced, people are understandably hesitant to send original documents.
If you are thinking about applying for Supplemental Security Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance, if can be very helpful to have an attentive law firm to help you navigate the administrative system. Contact the Law Office of Jonathan W. Cole to get the process started and have an experienced law firm fighting on your behalf. We have helped many people get the disability benefits they deserve, and we would love to help you. Call us at (708) 529-7794.