Frequently Asked Questions (En español)

Do I need to travel to the United States for my benefits to continue if I am not a U.S. citizen, and if so, when?

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Visit the Social Security Payments Outside the United States page to determine if you can continue to receive your benefits while you are outside the country. If you must travel to the United States for your benefits to continue, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary documents for lawful entry. For more information while you are in the United States, you may call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Or call our TTY number at 1-800-325-0778, if you are deaf or hard of hearing. If you prefer, you may visit a Social Security office for more information. If you are outside the United States, you may contact your nearest Federal Benefits Unit (FBU). Visit Foreign Country Service Information page for a complete list of FBUs.

Am I required to have my hearing by telephone or by online video?

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No. Telephone or online video hearings are not mandatory. However, we continue to strongly encourage you to consider participating in a telephone hearing or an online video hearing as a secure and reliable hearing option. In late 2021, we began scheduling some in-person hearings. We will continue to increase the number of in-person hearings we can hold. As our capacity grows, we will move to a more normal scheduling process. Please visit our Hearing Options During COVID-19 webpage for more information about our available hearing options.

Does Social Security have a plan that addresses the health and safety of its employees and the public in its offices?

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Yes. In accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Safer Federal Workplace: Agency Model Safety Principles memorandum (M-21-15) on the President’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing, we have created a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan. This plan is a living document. We will update it to incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of Management and Budget.

Please visit How to Get Help from Social Security for what to expect if you need to visit a Social Security office.

How can I find out if my Social Security office is open?

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Local Social Security offices are offering more in-person appointments and have resumed in-person service for people without an appointment. As we expand in-person service, we strongly encourage you to continue to go online, call us for help, and schedule appointments in advance.

Visit How to Get Help from Social Security for important information about

  • How to get help from Social Security, including online and the best times to call.
  • What you should know before you visit a Social Security office, so we can help you safely.
  • Options that could help you have your hearing sooner if you are appealing a decision.
  • The small number of offices that temporarily:
    • may provide service only by appointment due to construction, inability to permit people to wait outside the office, or other reasons.
    • may be closed to the public.

How can I get help from Social Security?

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We are here to help by continuing to provide the critical services you need. We want to help you as quickly and safely as possible.

Please visit our webpage with information about getting help and what to know before you visit an office.

What safety protocols must I follow to visit a Social Security office?

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Everyone must complete a self-assessment checklist before allowed entry. Everyone permitted to enter an office must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. Learn what else to know before you go to an office.

How can I communicate with my local hearing office?

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You must have a scheduled hearing to enter a hearing office. You can communicate with your local hearing office by telephone, fax, and e-Fax.

Via telephone:

Our hearing office employees continue to answer our general inquiry lines during regular business hours for local hearing offices and can help you with the following matters:

  • Confirming your availability for a hearing;
  • Confirming your agreement to a telephone or online video hearing;
  • Updating your records to ensure we have the appropriate telephone number and address; and
  • Providing status for your pending case.

You can find your local hearing office phone number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator.

Via fax or e-Fax:

Claimants and representatives can send us documents by fax machine or by their own e-fax solution. Sending documents to us via fax delivers a secure, electronic copy to the specific hearing office’s designated email inbox. To submit documents electronically via fax, simply use the toll-free fax number with area code “833” assigned to the servicing hearing office. You can find your local hearing office phone number by accessing our Hearing Office Locator.

How can I prepare for my hearing?

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For detailed information on how to prepare for your telephone hearing and what to expect during your hearing, visit www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_phone.html.

For detailed information on how to prepare for your online video hearing and what to expect during your hearing, visit www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_video.html. In addition, visit the Online Video Hearing Lobby to set up your device before your online video hearing. For assistance, reference the Online Video Hearing User Guide.

For detailed information on how to prepare if you have been offered an in-person hearing and what to expect during your hearing office visit, visit www.ssa.gov/appeals/hearing_inperson.html.

How will your offices acquire consent for participating in a telephone or online video hearing?

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  • We will send you special notice that includes a form to indicate whether you agree to appear at your hearing by telephone and/or by online video. The notice will provide instructions on how and when to return this form to us.
  • The claimant's appointed representative may sign the form in lieu of the claimant.
  • We also will accept a verbal agreement to appear by telephone or online video.

What do I do if I miss my hearing?

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If you missed your hearing time, please call the hearing office right away at the phone number listed on your Notice of Hearing. If you do not have your Notice of Hearing, you can find your local hearing office phone number by visiting our Hearing Office Locator.

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may create situations that constitute good cause for failing to appear at your scheduled hearing. To assist you in explaining why you have missed your hearing date during the pandemic, we will mail you a notice (called a "Request to Show Cause for Failure to Appear"). This notice will give you an opportunity to explain why you did not appear for your hearing. Although the notice we use to request a showing of good cause for failure to appear (i.e., Form HA-L90) identifies a shorter timeframe for a response, we will provide 30 days from the date on the request before we will issue a dismissal, to account for potential mail delivery and processing delays.

Will I still have my hearing with the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who was assigned to my case?

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Generally, yes. In the event a special situation arises before your hearing and we need to reassign your case to another ALJ, we will follow our instructions on reassignment, which are available in HALLEX I-2-1-55F.

I received a letter from Social Security that says my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment will change unless I file an appeal. How can I file this appeal?

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You can file an appeal by taking one of the following actions.

Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. Select “Reconsideration” and then the “Request Non-Medical Reconsideration” button. Follow the instructions on the screens to complete and submit the appeal electronically.

Send Us a Form by Mail or Fax

You may also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the local office fax number and address from the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code.

If you still have questions about filing an appeal on online, by mail, or fax, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form to complete and send back to us.

Is it true that as of October 29, 2021 that Supplemental Security Income recipients can file a reconsideration request for a non-medical issue more than 10 days after receipt of a letter and their payment may not change?

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Payment at the Protected Payment Level

Yes, effective October 29, 2021, if you request reconsideration of a change in payment for non-medical reasons within 60 days of receiving a letter about the change in payment, you will continue to receive payment at the previous payment level until a new determination is made, unless you ask not to receive continued payment. Therefore, if you file a reconsideration request within 10 days of receipt of a letter, there will be no change in your payment. If you file a reconsideration request more than 10 days after receipt of a letter, your payment may change temporarily, but we will restart the previous payment amount once we receive and enter your reconsideration request, and you will receive that amount until we decide your reconsideration request. Remember, SSA presumes that you receive a letter five days after the date on the letter unless you provide evidence that it took longer than five days. You can file an appeal by taking one of the following actions.

Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. Select “Reconsideration” and then the “Request Non-Medical Reconsideration” button. Follow the instructions on the screens to complete and submit the appeal electronically.

Send Us a Form by Mail

You may also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the address for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code.

If you still have questions about filing an appeal online, by mail, or fax, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form for you to complete and then send back to us.

My Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment has changed or stopped. I did not receive a letter in advance, or I did receive a letter, but it is now more than 60 days since I received the letter. What can I do?

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You can still file an appeal by taking one of the following actions.

Online at SSA.gov

The quickest and easiest way to file an appeal is online at our Appeal a Decision page. Select “Reconsideration” and then the “Request Non-Medical Reconsideration” button. Follow the instructions on the screens to complete and submit the appeal electronically. When you file your appeal, be sure to include a statement on the appeal request (or on a separate sheet of paper that you include with the appeal request) that explains why you are filing your request late.

Send Us a Form by Mail

You may also download, complete, and print the form Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561-U2) and then mail the completed form to your local Social Security office. You can find the address for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page by entering your ZIP code. When you file your appeal, be sure to include a statement on the appeal request (or on a separate sheet of paper that you include with the appeal request) that explains why you are filing your request late.

If you still have questions about filing an appeal online, by mail, or fax, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 or call your local office. You can find the telephone number for your local office in the letter we sent you or by going to the Social Security Office Locator page and entering your zip code. We can answer your questions and send you the appropriate appeal request form for you to complete and then send back to us.

If I receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), what do I need to know about and the Child Tax Credit (CTC)?

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We do not count the CTC against your eligibility or payment amount.

Where can I get answers to Child Tax Credit (CTC) questions?

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Please visit www.ChildTaxCredit.gov for information.

Will a Child Tax Credit (CTC) payment affect my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility or payment amount?

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While the CTC is not considered disaster assistance under our rules, we do not consider the CTC as income and resources for 12 months for SSI purposes. Receiving the CTC will not affect your SSI.

Does COVID-19 financial assistance affect my Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility or payment?

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We determined that, under our rules, COVID-related financial assistance would not affect eligibility for SSI or the monthly SSI payment amount. Specifically, we do not count the financial assistance listed below against your eligibility or payment amount. We are reviewing SSI claims and other SSI records going back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to restore SSI payments for people whose SSI was affected by receiving any of the assistance listed below.

What should I do if my SSI was affected because I received, or still receive, any of the assistance listed below?

In most cases, you do not need to do anything. If we do not need any information from you to restore your SSI payment, we will restore your SSI payment and we will mail you a letter explaining the change. We will send the letter to the most recent address we have available for you. If you have an appointed representative, or a representative payee, we will also send this information to your representative.

If we need information from you first, or if we need to take a new SSI claim, we will mail you a letter. The letter will explain that we need to talk with you at a scheduled appointment. If your SSI stopped because you received or still receive the assistance below, and you moved since your SSI stopped, please call your local office to report your move and talk with us. You can find the phone number by accessing our office locator.

What should I do if I was denied SSI because I was receiving any of the assistance listed below or I had received the assistance and saved the money?

We will contact you by mail to tell you what you need to do. You do not need to call before you hear from us unless you have moved since your claim was denied.

I was not already receiving SSI, but interested in applying for it. What should I do?

If you were not receiving SSI, and you receive, or you are thinking about applying for, any assistance listed below, you can apply for SSI without worry by calling SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.

What COVID-19 financial assistance does not count against SSI eligibility or SSI payment amount?

  • Economic Impact Payments (EIP)
  • State Stimulus Payments (Some exclusions may apply.)
  • Unemployment Assistance (also includes regular unemployment)
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Loan Forgiveness to Employers and Self-Employed Individuals
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program: Loans/Grants to Employers and Self-Employed Individuals /Grants
  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – Direct Payments to Farmers and Ranchers
  • COVID-19 Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program
  • COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
  • Emergency Rental Assistance Fund
  • Emergency Assistance for Rural Housing/Rural Rental Assistance
  • Homeowner Assistance Fund
  • Housing Assistance and Supportive Services Programs for Native Americans
  • Tribal Payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • Supporting Foster Youth and Families
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
  • Emergency Assistance to Children and Families through the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund
  • Farm Loan Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers
  • USDA Assistance and Support for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, Ranchers, Forest Land Owners and Operators, and Groups

What fraud and scams should I know about?

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This question consolidates and replaces previous questions related to scams.

Unfortunately, there are scammers who will take advantage of the current situation and try to trick you out of your money and personal information. Don’t be fooled!

No government agency will contact you offering COVID-19-related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, an advance fee, or gift cards. Please do not respond. These are scams. Visit Treasury’s website if you suspect economic impact payment fraud. Report Social Security scams about COVID-19.

Below are some of the scams we know about, but there can be many variations:

The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. We will not suspend or discontinue benefits because our offices are closed to walk-in visitors. Read this and other fraud advisories.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. For example, scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate. Learn about this and other COVID-19 fraud from HHS.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is alerting people about various COVID-19-related fraud and scams. Scammers are increasing their efforts to swindle people out of their money and personal information. These scams can including contracting, treatment, vaccines, government imposter scams, and fraud related to economic impact payments. We encourage you to learn about all COVID-19-related fraud and scams, and to report the scams you see.

Getting vaccinated is very important.  As more people are eligible to get vaccinated, scammers see new opportunities to trick you.  The FTC and the National Association of Attorneys General are teaming up to remind you that no matter what anyone tells you, you cannot buy COVID-19 vaccines online and there’s no out-of-pocket cost to get the shots.  COVID-19 vaccines are free. The FTC website lists some ways to avoid vaccine-related scams.  If you know about a COVID-19 vaccine scam, tell the FTC about it. You can also file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) is alerting financial institutions about Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud. They have identified multiple fraud schemes, including identity-related fraud, in which filers submit applications for UI payments using stolen or fake identification to receive payments. You can find more information on the Department of Labor's website.

How should a representative payee use a beneficiary’s economic impact payment (EIP)?

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The EIP belongs to the Social Security or SSI beneficiary. It is not a Social Security or SSI benefit. A representative payee should discuss the EIP with the beneficiary. If the beneficiary wants to use the EIP independently, the representative payee should provide the EIP to the beneficiary. If the beneficiary asks the representative payee for assistance in using the EIP in a specific manner or saving it, the representative payee can provide that assistance outside the role of a representative payee.

How should representative payees account for the economic impact payment (EIP) when completing the annual Representative Payee Report (i.e., annual accounting form)?

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Because an EIP is not a Social Security or SSI benefit, representative payees are not required to account for the EIP when they complete their annual accounting form.

What if a beneficiary alleges a representative payee misused the economic impact payment (EIP)?

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Because an EIP is not a Social Security or SSI benefit, SSA does not have authority to investigate or determine whether the EIP has been misused. However, if SSA receives an allegation that the EIP was not used on behalf of the beneficiary, SSA may decide to investigate for possible misuse of the beneficiary’s Social Security or SSI benefit payments. SSA may also determine the representative payee is no longer suitable and appoint a new representative payee.

Where can I read SSA’s program policy information?

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We have a publically accessible version of our Program Operations Manual System (POMS) at our Public Policy web page. The POMS is a primary source of information used by our employees to process claims for Social Security benefits. This public version of POMS is identical to the version used by our employees, except that it does not include internal data entry and sensitive content instructions. The POMS web page provides a table of contents so you can browse by category, and read recent policy changes, emergency messages, and more.

How will SSA process my notice of appointment while emergency procedures are in place?

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Beginning March 11, 2021, we have revised our temporary procedures to allow you to use different methods to sign the notice of appointment of a representative and fee agreement, if the fee agreement is submitted with the new notice of appointment, during the current COVID-19 health emergency. During this time, if we receive an appointment document such as the Form SSA-1696, on its own or along with an SSA-8000, SSA-8001, SSA-L2, SSA-820, SSA-821, SSA-827, or SSA-455 form, and your signature appears to be an electronic or digital signature, we will make three attempts to contact you to verify your identity and confirm the signature. If we verify your identity and signature, we will process the appointment as usual. If the first attempt to reach you by telephone is unsuccessful, we also will send a call-in letter to you and the representative you requested. If we cannot reach you and you do not return our call, or do not verify the signature, we will return the paperwork to the person who submitted it without recognizing the appointment.

We also have temporary procedures in place permitting you to verbally appoint a representative during a “remote” telephone hearing with an administrative law judge, if you submit a written notice of appointment afterwards. In this case, we will accept an electronic signature on the written appointment notice, without needing to call you again.

What do I do if I have missed the deadline to file my hearing request?

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We understand that some situations may constitute good cause for failing to timely file your request for hearing after receiving a prior denial on your claim. To assist you in providing an explanation for why you have missed the deadline to request a hearing during the pandemic, we will mail you a notice requesting a written explanation for the untimely filing if you have not already provided an explanation. This notice will give you an opportunity to explain why you were unable to file your hearing request on time. Although the notice we use to request a showing of good cause for untimely filing (i.e., Form HA-L61) identifies a shorter timeframe for a response, we will provide 30 days from the date on the request before we will issue a dismissal, to account for potential mail delivery and processing delays.

I did not file my appeal because Social Security offices were closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am now past the date for filing my appeal. Can I still file an appeal?

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Yes, you may still file an appeal request. When you fill out your appeal request, be sure to include a statement explaining the delay in filing your appeal. We extend good cause for late filing in many situations.

Someone filed an unemployment claim using my information and it wasn’t me. What can I do?

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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) has identified multiple fraud schemes in which filers submit applications for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits using other people’s information. Receiving unemployment benefits could affect the amount of monthly benefits you receive. If you believe you are a victim of this fraud scheme:

  • Contact your appropriate State fraud UI hotline to report the fraud. The Department of Labor has phone numbers for each state fraud hotline.
  • When you report the fraud, request that they provide you with written documentation that you have reported the alleged fraud. At a minimum, request a case number for your fraud report, and write down the case number, the name of the person you spoke to, and the time and date of your call.
  • Retain this information, along with any written confirmations, to ensure you can provide evidence that you reported the fraud if you need it later.
  • If you receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, and you suspect UI fraud, contact your local Social Security Office immediately.

Can I request a waiver for an overpayment debt incurred during COVID-19?

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Yes. Please call your local Social Security office and one of our employees will assist you. Under our rules, if you believe an overpayment was not your fault and you should not have to pay us back, you need to request a waiver of the overpayment debt. Certain debts may qualify for a streamlined waiver decision if:

  • Your overpayment debt happened between March 1 and September 30, 2020 because Social Security did not process an action due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • We identify the debt by December 31, 2020.

We developed instructions for our employees to process streamlined waiver requests. Although the instructions are marked sensitive, this version has been redacted under the Freedom of Information Act for public release.

How can I submit the documentation required to ensure I am appropriately appointed as my claimant’s representative before the hearing?

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It is extremely important that we have your appointment as representative on file before the hearing. For an appointment of representative to be valid, the claim(s) file must contain a completed and properly signed notice of appointment, which can be found at form SSA-1696, Claimant’s Appointment of Representative, or another written document that meets the requirements of 20 CFR 404.1707 and 416.1507. Representatives who are registered for Appointed Representative Services (ARS) can use the “Contact OHO Office” function in Electronic Records Express (ERE) to submit the duly executed appointment document directly to a designated email box for the servicing hearing office. You can find additional information about the “Contact OHO Office” tool at https://www.ssa.gov/ar. If you are not registered for ARS, you can use a physical fax machine or e-fax to send the document to the specific hearing office’s email, using the toll-free fax number with area code “833” assigned to the servicing hearing office.

SSA ended my disability benefits because of a CDR determination. I submitted a request for reconsideration to appeal SSA’s decision, but I did not elect that my disability benefits should continue. Can I now request that my benefits continue (or resume) until there is a determination on my appeal?

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Yes. You may, at any time, submit a late request to continue (or resume) your benefits while we make a determination on your appeal. We will grant the request if you provide a good reason. We have experienced delays in processing certain requests for reconsideration of initial disability cessation determinations (including age-18 redeterminations) during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We will accept this delay as a good reason to resume benefit payments when you file a late request and the following apply:

  • The determination notice ending your disability benefits (notice of cessation) is dated on or before August 30, 2020; and
  • Your request for reconsideration of the cessation determination is still pending with us.

Is Representative Payee monitoring continuing?

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Yes. State Protection and Advocacy (P&A) networks will conduct new representative payee monitoring reviews in-person only when state and local conditions permit and reviews can be conducted safely while social distancing with personal protective equipment (PPE). Reviews may also be conducted by video and phone. P&A grantees will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines.

I received financial assistance under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Will this affect my Supplemental Security Income payment?

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We do not consider Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund financial assistance as income or a resource for SSI purposes. Receipt of this assistance will not affect your SSI payment.

What other resources are available for information on COVID-19 and Social Security?

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COVID-19 Resources

For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, including symptoms, how to protect yourself, and travel advisories, visit these resources:

Other Information

For the latest information about our online services, status of local offices, and press releases, please visit these resources: