Impact of COVID-19 on Social Security Recipients

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Americans and world citizens in a state of limbo. Rapid changes to daily life, including changes in schedules, jobs, business operations, and social opportunities have left many people feeling uncertain as they wait for new updates and changes.

For Social Security recipients, these changes may be affecting you in specific ways. Here are some updates, resources, and changes for Social Security recipients.

Social Security Administration Offices Close

Local Social Security Administration offices shut their doors for an indefinite period starting on March 17 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially among immunocompromised citizens.

While such shutdowns are, of course, inconvenient, there are many resources available online that you may be able to utilize in place of making a physical visit to an SSA office. Using these online features, you can set up direct deposit, change your address, apply for benefits, view recent statements, find answers to frequently asked questions, and more. You can access these resources on the Social Security Administration website.

Will Social Security Recipients Get a Stimulus Check?

The US government has instituted financial assistance measures due to the widespread financial impact of the coronavirus. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 28, 2020, is the government’s $300 million relief provision.

The CARES act will provide each individual earning less than $75,000 annually with $1200. Heads of household earning under $112,500 and couples filing jointly earning under $150,000 will also receive $1200 per individual, with each household eligible for an additional $500 for each dependent child.

The American Association of Retired Persons worked to ensure that Social Security recipients, including those receiving retirement benefits, disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will receive the stimulus payments.

In most cases, the IRS will be able to use either your tax filing information or your Social Security information to ensure you receive your check, so it’s vital that you keep your address and information updated. However, some recipients may need to take an extra step to make sure they receive the full amount they are eligible for.

If you did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and have one or more dependents, you’ll need to inform the IRS so that you receive the amount allotted for dependent children. You should also inform the IRS if you are a new Social Security recipient who hasn’t filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 or if you are an SSI recipient.

These individuals can alert the IRS to their cases at the Economic Impact Payments page, available by the IRS on April 17.

If You’re Currently Filing for Benefits

Those who are currently in the process of filing for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income may be concerned about the state of their case now that SSA offices have closed.

Claims are still being processed, and you may still be able to have meetings and hearings via telephone. However, it would be unsurprising if the speed at which claims are being processed were to slow slightly in face of workflow disruptions.

With that in mind, if your case is ongoing, you may wish to recruit legal help from a Social Security disability attorney to receive experienced legal advice and give your claim the best chance of success.

Watch out for Social Security Scams

Finally, with so much confusion around the SSA and SSDI process and payments during the COVID-19 crisis, scams are on the rise. Scammers are especially targeting information concerning the pending stimulus checks.

To guard against Social Security scams, here are some ways to recognize Social Security scam calls, emails, or texts:

  • They are unsolicited—you haven’t asked the Social Security Administration to contact you or send you information.
  • They ask for private information, especially your Social Security number.
  • They use the threat of negative consequences—for example, they may say you will lose your stimulus check if you fail to provide your information.

To avoid falling for these scams, never give your Social Security number out over the phone or email. Don’t click on unsolicited links or attachments sent in emails, and only log in to your account by going to an official government website instead of logging in through a link. The Social Security Administration will never ask for payment or threaten the suspension of your Social Security number.