What You Need to Know
- SSA has a responsibility and a duty to provide timely, quality service to the public, the senators said.
- SSA announced an agreement last week with three labor unions over its workforce reentry plan.
- Senators want the acting commissioner to answer questions by Feb. 17 on SSA’s efforts to improve service delivery.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Aging Committee Chairman Bob Casey, D-Pa., and 15 other senators have called on the Social Security Administration to provide an update on its efforts to improve field office services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“SSA has a responsibility and a duty to provide timely and quality service to the public, whether it is provided online, via telephone or in-person,” the senators told Kilolo Kijakazi, acting commissioner at the Social Security Administration, on Tuesday in a letter. “COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated gaps in service for all. We write to request an update on the Social Security Administration’s efforts to improve service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts to modernize its business processes going forward.”
The senators noted that in March 2020, SSA closed 1,230 field offices in light of the pandemic and shifted the agency’s operations to a nearly 100% remote environment.
“With COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations soaring to their highest recorded levels due to the Omicron variant, we support the agency’s efforts to prioritize the safety and well-being of the public and the Agency’s staff, especially those who are immunocompromised, as it finalizes the phased reentry plan,” the senators wrote.
That said, “SSA has a responsibility and a duty to provide timely and quality service to the public,” the senators wrote.
Last week, SSA announced an agreement with three labor unions representing the agency’s workforce about a reentry plan beginning as early as March 30.
“This will be a significant step toward improving access to our services as we implement this plan,” Kijakazi said in a statement.
For now, Kijakazi said, those needing assistance should continue to reach SSA at ssa.gov or by calling the 800 number or their local office. “We will let you know when we are able to restore additional services.”