Mar 31, 2022

When Will The Field Offices Reopen To The Public?

    Why is it that I have a feeling that Social Security won't make any prior announcement when they reopen the field offices to the public because they want a "soft" reopening? Is there any other way they'd do it?

 Anyway, here are new health protocols for visiting the agency's field offices just issued by Social Security:

What safety protocols must I follow to visit a Social Security office?


All visitors, employees, and guards must review the self-assessment below before allowed to enter. You may not enter the office if your answer to any of these questions is YES, regardless of your vaccination status. Masks are required for all visitors, employees, and guards.

  1. Do you have any new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 including:
    • Fever (100.4 degrees or higher);
    • Cough or sore throat;
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing;
    • Fatigue;
    • Muscle pain or body aches;
    • Headache;
    • New loss of taste or smell;
    • Congestion or runny nose; or
    • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea?
  2. Within the last 10 days, have you:
    • Been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • Received instructions from a public health authority (local health authority, medical professional, etc.) to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 or self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
    • Been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results (other than for travel purposes); or
    • Been in close physical contact with anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 or developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19?
  3. Within the last 5 days, have you:
    • Traveled outside the country by means other than land travel, such as car, bus, ferry, or train?

Close physical contact is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected/symptomatic person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 48 hours before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic individuals, 48 hours prior to test specimen collection).

If you answered YES to any of these questions or if you feel ill, please call the office to reschedule your appointment.

If you answered NO, you must wear a face covering over your mouth and nose to enter this facility. If you do not have one, we will provide you with one. If you are unable to wear a face covering, call the office and ask to speak with the manager.


Anonymous said...

Oh, so basically what the entire rest of the country has been doing for more than 18 months, how original.

Anonymous said...

So the SSA took two years to implement what the rest of the world was able to do within a month of the pandemic starting. Excellent.

I just returned from my first live hearing in over two years. Cant enter the building more than 15 minutes prior to the hearing. Have to sign a covid form. Masks must be worn. There are plastic shields/barriers on every table - one for the ALJ, one for the hearing monitor, and one for the claimant. Hearings are scheduled every 2 hours to keep the room clear between hearings. I was the only person in the lobby, even though our OHO has 7 hearing rooms. I dont mind these safeguards...but it is a bit much considering the rest of the world has opened up.

Anonymous said...

@11:16. You are correct! However, unlike many other agencies/companies in the country, SSA is dealing with keeping the vulnerable, safe (elderly and disabled) in very small quarters, sometimes. Yes, are they slow? Yes, are they detailing a plan? Yes... they will reopen with safety protocols for protection of all....we hope!

Anonymous said...

1:03 Congregate Senior Meal Sites, Area Agencies On Aging, CILs (Center for Independent Living) and social service providers across the nation happen to do the same thing for the aging and disabled throughout the pandemic, they were on the front lines, in person, getting the vulnerable population through all the hoops created during the pandemic. 2 years of Open Enrollment Season were handled, benefit applications completed for state and federal programs.

SSA left that population, abandoned them.

Anonymous said...

I asked an ALJ about requiring proof of vaccination. He said, that was what the ALJ Association had incited on but I see nothing in the published guidelines about that.

If this is a requirement, then the public should be told. If it is not a requirement, it might be a good idea to tell the ALJs.

I can see the arguments at the hearing office if an ALJ insists on proof and it is not in fact a requirement.

Anonymous said...

@1:52: This is 1:03. You are right, SSA abandoned the most vulnerable. I cannot deny that. The tele-work was questionable, as were the phones. I don't deny that, it's been rough. However, they are taking steps to re-open... so optimism, I on my part. d;-)

Anonymous said...

After all the threats of retirement and work slow downs, I do not share that optimism.

Anonymous said...

3:21 I have not seen any threats of work slowdowns, where did you see that?

12:05 Get your facts straight. The rest of the world did not reopen within a month of the pandemic starting.

I know several people who work for insurance companies, tech companies and they are being allowed to continue to telework every day of the year. Their employers pivoted to telework once they realized how well it worked. SSA should do the same IMO.

Anonymous said...

3:35 on this blog and others, pay attention.

I dont ever want to hear a SSA employee complain about customer service with any company ever again. Glass houses.

Unknown said...


How is SSA similarly positioned to tech firm and insurance companies? These firms not only have better IT and are more nimble, but also do not have a focus on providing a public facing service to millions of people. SSA should not be modeling their phone and in-person service after an industry that is infamous for providing terrible service. Telework may work for large portions of SSA, but not field offices. This is where the service declines are undeniable, and it is not just related to lack of overtime and staff. The large field office in NY that most of my cases get processed by only lost 2 employees to retirment during the pandemic.

Anonymous said...

The FOs are reopening to the public on April 7, no appointment necessary. Good luck, all.