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Message from Donna Simpson on Office Response to COVID-19

Dear Clients, Friends, and Colleagues:

Our hearts go out to the individuals, businesses, and communities that have been affected by COVID-19. We are especially concerned for all of our clients and friends in Putnam County who are rebuilding after the devastating tornado. Testing continues at the Putnam County Health Department, 701 County Services Drive, Cookeville, from 9 am to 3 pm on Monday and other sites around the Upper Cumberland.

 In response to an anticipated increase in the number of cases and the ongoing uncertainty of how this will evolve, we want to make you aware of how COVID-19 is affecting our office's ability to provide service to our clients and the steps we are taking to protect the health and safety of our employees, their families, our clients, and our communities while maintaining a consistent level of client service.

 PHYSICAL OFFICE CLOSED TO WALK-INS                   

Our office located at 51 East First Street, Cookeville, TN is closed to walk-in clients. We are meeting all of our clients with telephone appointments. We are developing a plan to work from home should the need come to further protect the safety of our staff. 

We are asking our clients to mail any documents to our office, 51 E. First Street, Cookeville, TN 38501 or email to [email protected]  If you cannot mail or email documents or are a client and have something to drop off for us, please place it in the client box by the back door of our office.   

COURTS and SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE WORKING REMOTELY 

Local Social Security District Offices are closed to all walk-ins. The Office of Hearings Operations has staff working remotely and they are conducting telephone hearings through May 31, 2020. All in-person hearings are canceled until further notice. ALJs are holding hearings from their homes.

Courts across Tennessee are closed for in-person hearings through April 30, 2020, except in emergency situations. The Court is still operational.

DDS CLOSED

The Tennessee Disability Determination Section (DDS) has started to work remotely. If your claim is pending at the initial level or at the reconsideration level, there is now some slow movement on your claim. Consultative exams are canceled, at least through April. 

SLOW-DOWN OCCURRING DUE TO LONGER RESPONSE TIME FROM OTHERS

We anticipate as more government agencies and private businesses require employees to social distance and/or work from home, we will experience additional delays.  We are concerned about the ability of government-based workers and businesses to perform their duties from home. 

With the federal and state governments increasingly suggesting that Americans shelter-in-place, we are noticing significant response delays from medical record retrieval companies who are reliant on responsiveness from physicians' offices, hospitals and healthcare facilities who are busy responding to COVID-19.

We are closely monitoring the situation daily. We will keep you informed and let you know if further actions are necessary to respond to COVID-19.

We will send you further notice if we transition to full remote operations. We are currently putting in place full remote working capabilities, should they become necessary.

In addition to phone interviews, we will be using Zoom video conferencing to enable face-to-face interaction in a safe, distanced manner. 

Please do what you can to isolate yourself and follow the instructions of the CDC. Working together, we can keep our communities safe.

We wish you all our best,

Donna Simpson

April 19, 2020

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