Carrie, Erica and I are continuing our work on your Social Security disability claim during the COVID-19 breakout. At this point, we are still coming into the office to work but we are not seeing clients in person. All of our contact with our clients will be by telephone or Zoom. If you have anything to send to us, please send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail at 51 E. 1st Street, Cookeville, TN 38501. You can also drop off documents at the Dropbox located at our back door. We are setting up remote connections to our office to be able to continue work on your claim in the event we are confined to home. It is probable that as long as we stay healthy, our office can operate as it is operating now with perhaps one or two of us working from home.
I have just gotten off of a conference call between Regional Chief Judge Sheila Lowther and participating Social Security attorneys in Region 4.The Office of Hearings Operations has canceled all in-person hearings through April. We have contacted all of our clients who have a hearing scheduled before the end of April to determine what is in your best interest for holding the hearing. At this point, we do not know how long Social Security will continue to suspend in-person hearings. Starting March 30, 2020, the ALJs will be conducting hearings from his or her home.
The Tennessee Disability Determination Section is temporarily closed. That office does not have the capability to work remotely. That means that if you have filed for disability and are waiting on an initial or reconsideration decision, your claim will not move until the DDS reopens. It also means that you will have to wait for a consultative examination if one is scheduled.
The Social Security Administration is working to process your benefits while closing offices to the public. If your claim has been approved and you have a checking or savings account for direct deposit, your benefit will be deposited there. In most circumstances, that is the quickest and safest way to receive benefits at this point.
We are just beginning to have experience with processing back benefits since COVID-19 has impacted the work of Social Security. So far, there has not been much change in that process. We will continue to monitor the payment of back benefits.
The Putnam County Health Department, 701 County Services Drive, Cookeville, TN continues to have free testing.
Grace and peace,