February 04, 2022

COVID-19 Widows Struggle to Get Survivors Benefits as Social Security Offices Remain Closed

In addition to causing pain, misery and death to millions of infected Americans, the coronavirus pandemic has forced Social Security offices to close in-person operations, and many children and spouses are experiencing long delays in processing their survivor benefit claims. More than 90 percent of those seeking survivor benefits are women.

To help alleviate the problem, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is expanding a vital pandemic service to taxpayers that it had restricted to just one hour a day, allowing drop boxes at its closed field offices to accept sensitive documents and forms for more hours as it works toward opening some facilities.

“The combination of SSA’s severe underfunding and the pandemic have been enormous hurdles to overcome,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Congress can help SSA address these challenges with sufficient funding that allows a smooth reopening when it is safe to do so. SSA’s work force is doing all they can under very difficult circumstances and the additional funding would certainly be put to good use.”

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the House-passed appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services would boost SSA’s funding by 9 percent over last year, while the Senate version would provide an 8 percent increase — less than the 10 percent increase proposed in President Biden’s 2022 budget.

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