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COVID-related Closings of SSA Offices Reflected in Drop in Applications for SSD

Applications for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits significantly dropped during the first three quarters of 2020 (the most recent statistics available) compared to the same time period the previous year. Additionally, benefit awards also dropped quarter by quarter.

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) attributes these declines to the closing of Social Security field offices in 2020 and the fact more SSA staff members worked remotely due to the pandemic.

According to Stacy Cloyd, director of policy and administrative advocacy at NOSSCR, the decision to apply for SSD benefits is a complex and personal issue, further complicated by the difficulty claimants now face in reaching staff at Social Security.

“Just as with many other agencies and services, Social Security had to close offices and have their staff work remotely. Phone wait times were unbearably long, making it especially difficult for applicants who have physical and mental disabilities,” Cloyd said. “We understand the transition to working remotely has been difficult for the Social Security Administration, and our organization and its members have been trying to work with the agency to put services back on track for claimants.”

The decline in applications and benefit awards speak to how the COVID pandemic has made a challenging life event even more difficult for individuals who cannot work due to physical or mental impairments.

Last year saw significant drops in applications for benefits at a time when there was very high unemployment. The indication is that people who became ill or who were injured and could now no longer work are falling through the cracks instead of landing in the Social Security benefits “safety net.”  Even more troubling, there’s no indication things are going to change soon.

During typical years, more than 60 percent of SSD applicants are denied at the initial application stage and face two years of working through the appeals process before they are deemed eligible to be awarded benefits. NOSSCR and its members, like Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, want claimants to know we are here to help negotiate the process of applying for SSD during these very difficult times.  Having a knowledgeable representative who can guide applicants through the system as efficiently as possible is even more critical as the country continues to negotiate its way through this crisis.

If you or someone you know needs help applying for SSD benefits, call Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys at 1-800-343-8537.  We have helped over 20,000 individuals with their SSD claims and would be honored to help you or your friends and loved ones, too.