Covid 19 has affected all aspects of society and this includes recipients and applicants for disability benefits.
Social Security Field Offices
In March of 2020 the Social Security Administration (SSA) closed all of its field offices. Since then some SSA offices had reopened by appointment only but are not accommodating walk-in visitors. Visitors who are scheduled are required to complete a self-assessment checklist before entering an SSA field office to rule out any coronavirus symptoms or possible exposure to coronavirus, and must wear a face covering inside the office.
Applications and Hearings By Phone
Applicants for disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are encouraged to file their claims by telephone or online. Hearings for disability claims, including appeals, can be held by telephone but telephone hearings are not required. An applicant for benefits who prefers to have an in-person hearing instead of a telephone hearing would have to wait indefinitely before their hearing can be scheduled.
Continuing Claims and Overpayments
Current recipients of disability benefits can expect their payments to continue uninterrupted. The SSA has also suspended continuing disability reviews, which determine whether a current recipient is still eligiible, and also is not processing or attempting to collect any overpayments
Unemployment and Extended Benefits, Can Disability Recipients Apply?
Yes, persons receiving disability benefits can apply for unemployment benefits if they were working part-time and earning under the maximum limits imposed on disability recipients. Unemployment benefits will be reduced for recipients of SSI. In cases where the recipient receives the extended benefits, such as the extra $600 per week (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) which would exceed their SSI income, the SSI benefits would not be paid. Once the unemployment benefits or extended benefits are no longer being paid, an SSI recipient can have their payments resumed. SSDI recipients can apply for unemployment benefits and still receive their full disability benefits since Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is not considered to be earned income.