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How Do I Apply for Social Security, If the Office Is Closed?

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The SSA offices have remained mostly shuttered to the public, but they do have some in-person services for people with “dire” needs. As a result, it has caused difficulty for the millions of Americans with disabilities who rely on the responsiveness of the SSA to apply for and receive their Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits after a work-disrupting disability.

It looks like reopening is scheduled for March 30, 2022. That is more than two years since the field offices initially closed.

Kiplinger’s article entitled “Applying for Disability Benefits While the SSA Offices Remain Closed” says that if you are one of the millions of people waiting for updates on your application or approval status, review these tips to maximize your chances of success.

Apply for SSDI Right Away. Because of the closed field offices, the SSA is experiencing a big backlog. The initial application can take three to six months to review, and typically only about one in three applications are approved. Therefore, if you are thinking about applying for SSDI, check the categories of eligible disabilities online to see if you are eligible to receive benefits.

Get a representative to receive help early. Applying for SSDI is a multistage process that can be complex and exhausting. Many applications fail to get approved because the applicant did not submit all of the required documentation. Consider having an experienced, dedicated representative advocate for you. This can make a big difference in getting your application and claims approved in a timely manner. He or she should be familiar with the policies and procedures of the SSA, can advocate for you and your particular disability and can help make certain that all necessary forms and documents are in order, properly completed and submitted electronically to the federal agency.

Make a budget and adjust your spending habits accordingly. It is going to be a while yet for the SSA’s offices to get back up to speed once they reopen. This may mean needing to live longer than expected without receiving a benefits payment. Examine your finances and create a budget to help you live beneath your means and remain financially secure for an interim period, while the SSA processes your paperwork.

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Reference: Kiplinger (Feb. 8, 2022) “Applying for Disability Benefits While the SSA Offices Remain Closed”