The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced earlier this year that it would reopen its offices for most in-person functions after being closed for two years. The announcement in January said that the offices would open in late March or possibly in early April. However, the agency did not announce a specific date, leading to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to write a letter to SSA last week asking for a specific date that the offices would reopen.
Now, we have the reopening date. The SSA announced Monday that it will reopen on Thursday, April 7.
“I am pleased to announce that local Social Security offices will restore in-person services, including for people without an appointment, on April 7, 2022,” SSA acting commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said in the Monday announcement.
The agency reiterated that online services and phone calls remain the “most convenient” ways to reach the agency even with the offices open again.
“To avoid waiting in line, I strongly encourage people, who can, to use our online services at www.socialsecurity.gov, call us, and schedule appointments in advance rather than walking in without an appointment,” Kijakazi said in the release. “Phone appointments can save you a trip to a busy office. I thank the public for your patience as we work to increase service.”
Those without appointments are allowed to show up, but SSA cautions that they will likely have longer wait times. The commissioner also noted that Social Security offices tend to be busiest first thing in the morning.
COVID-19 protocols will remain in place, including “masking, physical distancing, and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms.” Masks will be provided to those who want them.
“We have also implemented office-to-office support as well as brought recently retired employees back to assist the public,” Kijakazi added. “We thank the many interested stakeholders including the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living and national advocacy organizations for your help.”
A solicitation for help from ex-employees had been spotted by Federal News Network last month. Those who take up SSA on the offer will get a dual compensation waiver, meaning that retired employees will continue to receive their retirement annuity even if they return to work.
The agency also warned of long wait times on the phone.
“As we transition to a new modern phone system, some people may experience a busy signal or be unintentionally disconnected from their call,” the release said. “We sincerely regret this disruption and recommend people call when our National 800 Number may be less busy, such as before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. local time or later in the week. Like our offices, our waits are generally shorter later in the month”
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.