August 5, 2014
Effective August 1, 2014, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is making changes to its field office services that may affect individuals and families working with chapters of The Arc on support and service coordination, information and referral, emergency services, and other services. Please share this information with your staff.
Effective August 1, 2014: SSA Field Offices to Only Provide SSN Printouts to People in "Dire Need"
Effective August 1, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will move forward with its plan to eliminate the issuance of Social Security number (SSN) printouts in its field offices. Instead, individuals will be directed to apply for a new SSN card, a process that takes about 2 weeks.
However, SSA has indicated that it will ensure service to those with a "dire need" and that each field office will designate a point of contact to assist local organizations with obtaining SSN verifications, with consent, in emergency situations and in cases of hardship. More information about the dire need exception process is available in a SSA's Emergency Message EM-14009 REV. Examples of dire need exceptions include: regionally or nationally declared disasters (e.g. hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, etc.); individuals facing immediate eviction; individuals who participate in home energy assistance programs; individuals needing immediate emergency medical services; and homeless individuals.
SSA Field Offices to Continue to Provide Benefit Verification Letters
Local Social Security offices will continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice, as outlined in a recent SSA press release.
If staff at a chapter of The Arc is working with individuals who are told by SSA staff that the field office cannot provide them with a benefit verification letter, the SSA press release may be helpful. If individuals seeking benefit verification letters are consistently being turned away from a particular field office, we encourage you to contact the state Protection and Advocacy agency for assistance. Additionally, if staff at a chapter of The Arc is seeing consistent patterns of people being turned away without benefit verification letters, please consider sharing this information with T.J. Sutcliffe in The Arc's public policy office for use in our advocacy work (
Earlier this year, SSA announced plans to eliminate the provision of both SSN printouts and benefit verification letters at its field offices. These documents are often used by people with disabilities and others who need to promptly verify their SSN to secure a job or get a driver license or non-driver ID, or who need to verify their Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in order to secure housing, a loan, or public benefits (and for many other purposes).
The Arc joined with other national disability organizations to oppose these service cuts. The Arc is pleased that SSA will continue to provide benefit verification letters, but continues to express concern about the potential impact on people with disabilities from the reduction in access to SSN printouts at SSA field offices.