Good Question: Why are social security offices not fully open?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— There’s a lot of frustration with one issue leading to this Good Question. Many of you have reached out saying you just want to take care of issues with social security, but you can’t get through the door.

Joe came to us looking for help, asking News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: Can one of you find out why the social security office(s) are not open? All other federal agencies are open including the post offices and federal court so why not social security?

Somers started looking through the SSA’s COVID response plans.

The agency is open and taking appointments, but no walk-ins. To book a slot to meet in person, you have to qualify. SSA breaks that down into two categories: "I need help with benefits" or "I need help with my social security number (SSN)"

For help with benefits, SSA says it "will schedule an in-person appointment in limited, critical situations." For example, you’re without food, shelter, utilities, or medical care maybe you need to apply to reinstate benefits. If there’s a problem with your social security number, there’s a priority list.

It’s for people 12 and up applying for their first SSN card or those who need to update or correct their info.

Having said all that, even if you do qualify, SSA says "appointments may not be immediately available, depending on local health and safety conditions and staffing."

Here’s the full response the agency sent to Somers:

"We have been and remain open for business, and we currently provide multiple service delivery options for all Americans. Most social security services are available to the public online at, and with a "my social security" account, by telephone, or via in-person appointments for limited, critical situations, depending upon local office conditions. If a person cannot use our online services, they can call their local office ( or our national 800 number, 1-800-772-1213, for assistance. These service options are available in every state and ensure that we are able to deliver service across the country.

Each week we are increasing the number of personnel in our field offices to provide more in-office appointments. We have more than 1,200 field offices staffed with personnel who are conducting in-person appointments and other services."


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