Current Social Security leadership has been skeptical of remote work arrangements.
In November, it terminated a work-from-home pilot program that allowed 12,500 employees to work remotely one day per week. As the coronavirus crisis has unfolded, a small number of offices were closed in areas experiencing a high number of infections, and a limited amount of remote work was permitted. Employees at some Social Security sites, including back office operations, were still reporting for work Tuesday.
But the agency had not announced plans to shutter its field office network until midafternoon Monday, when it held a conference call with union leadership.
How to get Social Security help
If you need to visit a local Social Security office for in-person services, call the office to request an appointment. You can find the closest office using an office locator tool on the Social Security website, where the agency is also providing updates and information on services.
If you already have an office appointment or disability appeal scheduled, Social Security will contact you by phone to reschedule or to handle the matter by phone. The agency cautions that this call may come from a private phone number, not a government phone. That’s because not all employees have government-issued phones that can be used for business from remote locations, Mr. Couture said.
Social Security generally only contacts people who have recently applied for benefits, or to update the records of those who are receiving benefits, a spokeswoman says. The agency also calls people who have requested a callback, including those with scheduled appointments. The agency will never call to tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended or to demand payments or ask for credit card information.
The number of Social Security identity theft phone scams has been rising, with robocalls and live callers posing as government employees. The agency generally reaches out by mail and will call only if you’ve just recently applied for benefits or have requested a callback.
Social Security fields 75 million calls annually, and long wait times are typical. Getting through can be difficult — in 2018, 15 percent of callers heard a busy signal, according to the National Council of Social Security Management Associations, an organization of field office and telecommunications service center managers.