WASHINGTON, DC— In response to a request from Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Chairman Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-MA), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has outlined the urgent action field offices have taken to protect visitors from the summer heat. While the heat persists and physical distancing measures remain in place, Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi encourages visitors to take advantage of SSA’s online and telephone services whenever possible.
In its response, SSA reports that it has already taken a number of steps to address Congress’s concerns about maintaining the health and safety of visitors waiting in lines outside Social Security offices, including:
- Increasing in-person staff and service options to reduce waiting times at the busiest offices;
- Assigning some workloads to other offices, to free up the busiest offices for in-person service;
- Reconfiguring waiting areas to allow more people to enter climate-conditioned waiting areas; and
- Providing outdoor canopies, fans, and access to bathrooms and water fountains for those waiting outside of offices in the heat.
SSA also notes that constituents who are having trouble accessing the agency’s service may be able to avoid long waits outside by using online or phone services.
“Local offices are working hard to help people who need our services,” wrote Acting Commissioner Kijakazi. In addition, she reports that SSA is “updating our physical distancing policy for the public, which we expect will significantly address the concerns you raise.”