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Social Security Offices May Re-Open Soon!

The national network of Social Security customer service offices, which were closed

nearly two years ago at the start of the pandemic, is on track to reopen on March 30.

The Social Security Administration and unions representing the agency’s work force agreed this week to reopen more than 1,200 offices, contingent on changes in pandemic conditions and further negotiations.

Bargaining is set to conclude by March 1, which would allow 30 days to plan for the office re-entry. Social Security field offices handle benefit claims for retirement and Medicare. But they also assist with applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, the benefit program for low- income, disabled or older people. Since the pandemic began, nearly all public service has been available only online, and by phone and mail, and the agency work force of nearly 60,000 has operated virtually.

Office visits are available only by appointment and only for a limited number of critical issues. Processing of Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare claims has not been impaired during the office shutdown, agency records show. But there were sharp drops in 2020 in benefit awards for Supplemental Security Income and disability insurance.

Social Security had earlier announced a tentative plan for employees to return to the offices on Jan. 3. But that date was postponed because of disagreements between the agency and unions over specifics of the plan.

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