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Social Security: Outreach to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Social Security: Outreach to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Outreach to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

People who struggle with low-income, limited English proficiency, homelessness, or with mental illness have historically relied on meeting with us in person at our local offices to get the help they need. Currently, Social Security offices are open only for in-person appointments for limited, critical situations, depending upon local office conditions.

If you cannot use our online services, please call your local office or our National 800 Number for assistance. If we cannot help you by phone, your local office can determine if an in-person appointment or other option may be available to help you.

To serve those who need us most, we’ve partnered with community-based groups to launch a national outreach campaign. The goal of the campaign is to increase public awareness of our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit programs and support third-party groups that are assisting vulnerable individuals to apply for benefits. The SSI and SSDI programs provide critical financial assistance, and, in many cases, grant access to healthcare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP.

Key components of our outreach campaign include:

  • Working with community-based groups that can assist with taking applications for SSI and SSDI.
  • Launching a national advertising campaign on TV, radio, and social media, with emphasis on benefits for children with disabilities.
  • Adding new online tools and informational pages, including:
  • Resources for people helping others access our services at ssa.gov/thirdparty.
  • Outreach materials for partner groups working with vulnerable populations at ssa.gov/thirdparty/groups/vulnerable-populations.html.
  • Updated information for faith-based and community groups, including a new toolkit and fact sheets about SSI and SSDI, at ssa.gov/thirdparty/groups/faithandcommunity.html.

We want to thank the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for working with us and sharing our website and products with their national network of community leaders.

We also want to thank members of the claimant advocacy community for their collaboration on this campaign. We will feature their perspectives on serving vulnerable populations on our blog over the coming weeks. Please be sure to visit and subscribe at blog.ssa.gov to receive alerts when we publish new articles from our partners, and share the latest information about our national outreach campaign.

General Q&A

Q: When a person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes dies, are benefits payable on that person’s record?

A: Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:

• A widow or widower – unreduced benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60.

• A disabled widow or widower – as early as age 50.

• A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits.

• Unmarried children under 18 or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren or adopted children.

• Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.

• Dependent parents age 62 or older.

Even if you are divorced, you still may qualify for survivors benefits. For more information, go to www.ssa.gov.

Q: Recently, I was told I shouldn’t be carrying my Social Security card around. Is that true?

A: We encourage you to keep your Social Security card at home in a safe place. Do not carry it with you unless you are taking it to a job interview or to someone who requires it. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America and the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to safeguard your Social Security card and number. To learn more, visit www.ssa.gov/ssnumber.

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.

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