There are many telephone scams going on. Scammers are trying to trick you into giving them your personal information and money. Don’t be fooled!

Scammers pretend they’re from Social Security. The number you see on caller ID may even look like an official government number, but it is not. The caller may say there is a problem with your Social Security number or account. They may ask you to give them personal information like your Social Security Number or bank account. They may tell you to fix the problem or to avoid arrest you must pay a fine or fee using retail gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, wire transfers, or cash.

These calls are not from the Social Security Administration. I want to help you protect yourself.  If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security, please:

• Hang up right away.

• Never give your personal information, money, or retail gift cards.

• Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov/ to Social

Security’s law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

 

A recent rule entitled“Setting the Manner for the Appearance of Parties and Witnesses at a Hearing” preserves claimants’ ability to opt out of video hearings. SSA states in the prefatory matter to the final rule that although the agency believes video hearings are comparable to in-person ones and can help reduce wait times for hearings, “the commenters’ near-universal preference for our current policy, which allows a party to a hearing before an ALJ to opt out of appearing by VTC” led the agency to continue the current policy.

Starting on January 8, 2020, Social Security offices nationwide will be open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced. This change restores Wednesday public service hours that were last in place in late 2012. “I don’t want someone to come to our office at 2:30 on a Wednesday only to find our doors closed,” Commissioner Saul said.

In another move to improve service to the public, Commissioner Saul announced in his Open Letter to the Public at http://www.ssa.gov/agency/coss- message.html that the agency is hiring 1,100 front line employees to provide service on the agency’s National 800 Number and in its processing centers. The agency is currently bringing onboard 100 new processing center employees and approximately 500 new teleservice representatives for the 800 Number. An additional 500 hires for the 800 Number will occur later in 2020.

“Improving service is my top priority. Increasing full public service hours at our nationwide network of more than 1,200 field offices is the right thing to do and will provide additional access,” Commissioner Saul said. “The hiring of a thousand new employees to provide service through our National 800 Number and an additional 100 hires to process people’s Social Security benefits at our processing centers around the country are steps in the right direction in our mission to greatly improve the service we provide.”

Currently, a field office is generally open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to Noon on Wednesdays. Beginning on January 8, 2020, offices will remain open until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, with typical field office hours from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

While the agency continues to improve both the access to and the experience with its services, it is important to note that most Social Security services do not require the public to take time to visit an office. People may create a my Social Security account, a personalized online service, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Through their personal my Social Security account,

people can check personal information and conduct business with Social Security. If they already receive Social Security benefits, they can start or change direct deposit online, and if they need proofoftheirbenefits,theycanprintordownload a current Benefit Verification Letter from their account.

People not yet receiving benefits can use their online account to get a personalized Social Security Statement, which provides earnings history information as well as estimates of future benefits. Currently, residents in 40 states and the District of Columbia may request a replacement Social Security card online if they meet certain requirements. The portal also includes a retirement calculator and links to information about other online services, such as applications for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.

Many Social Security services are also conveniently available by dialing toll-free, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call Social Security’s TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

 

Here’s to 2020

January 1, 2020

While I am not one for resolutions, the beginning of the year makes me think about how to improve things at the office.  Tiffany and I will be taking a retreat day this month to work on our office procedures and figure out how to do a better job for all of our clients.

If you have any recommendations, feel free to comment here.

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