Since the March 2020 shut-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration’s public offices have remained closed. Four months have passed and the closures remain. Folks in Vacaville, Fairfield, Vallejo and surrounding cities are left wondering when offices will resume normal business.
While other large companies and organizations have begun rolling out multi-phase reopening plans, the SSA has remainedsilent. Both SSA employees and their related unions confirm that they have not received any communication from the Agency in terms of reopening.
As a professional in this field, I can tell you that the Offices of Hearings Operations continue to schedule hearings via telephone, only. When asked about resuming in person hearings, employees can provide no projected date. Disabled folks who refuse a telephonic hearing and opt to wait to have their cases heard in person are told that their matter may not be rescheduled until 2021!
While all of this may seem like bad news, I must report that there is a silver lining to the continued closure. Prior to the pandemic, hold times to speak to a live employee within the local SSA offices within our district (those that serve South Sacramento, Winters, Vacaville, Fairfield, Vallejo and surrounding cities) used to range from ten minutes to seventy-five minutes at very busy times. Now, there is generally never a wait. It is much easier to reach an SSA employee. The SSA reports that those answering calls at their national number were able to handle 275,533 more calls in May of this year than in May of 2019. That means wait times were lower and more calls were completed.
In addition, processing times for hearing decisions have decreased. In May of 2019, the average processing time was 491 days. In May of 2020, the processing time averages about 357 days. That is quite a difference!
While I cannot make blanket assumptions based on the above, it does appear that telework is allowing employees to be more productive.
With all of that said, if you are waiting for your local SSA office to reopen in order to file a claim or appeal a decision, stop waiting. Call us today and let us electronically file the documents for you. We can give your claim the expert attention it deserves and ensure that it moves through the appropriate channels as quickly as possible. There is no fee if we do not win your case so you have nothing to lose by seeking our help! That is the promise that we make based on the confidence in our work. No matter that stage you are in the process, we are here to help. Give us a call today!