“I am very pleased to share that we have successfully reached an agreement with our three labor unions on our reentry plan,” acting SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said in a statement at the time. “This will be a significant step toward improving access to our services as we implement this plan.”
The hope is that reopening the offices will help alleviate some of the trouble with backlogs, delays, and other issues that Social Security recipients have faced since the start of the pandemic.
According to Federal News Network, walk-in service for customers without appointments will be available at Social Security offices. In recent months, appointments have been required, and not always easy to get.
Even with offices reopening, the SSA is still warning of longer than usual wait times.
Federal News Network also obtained a solicitation for retired SSA employees to return to work in order to provide “temporary support” as the offices reopen.
“Looking for another opportunity to help serve the American people? If so, we are seeking retirees to help the agency as we begin to transition to reentry and re-open our field offices to the public. We are seeking temporary support for approximately 400 field offices during reentry.”
Those interested will be given a temporary appointment for thirty days, with the possibility of extensions and a $74,074 base rate. Retirees will continue to draw their monthly annuity.
Those reentering the SSA will have various tasks, including monitoring visitor lines, coordinating communications between offices and visitor lines, communicating safety measures, and more.
“All employees, contractors, and visitors must mask while in SSA space. Employees may use a mask of their choice, so long as it meets the agency mask guidelines. Offices will have disposable surgical masks for the public, and employees may also use these masks,” the memo says.
Also, those who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or were in close contact with someone who was diagnosed must remain out of the office for ten days. Still, it seems that the SSA is getting over some of its pandemic-era challenges.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.