By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
The Social Security office is now open to in-person appointments, but visitors should manage their expectations, says Social Security staff.
“We want to make sure that CPAs and their clients are aware that if you do come into the office without an appointment, it could be a situation where you may encounter a longer wait or a delay,” said Brandon Smith, Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Cleveland.
Smith and Robert Fenn, the Public Affairs Specialist at the Social Security Administration in Akron, joined the State of Business podcast to discuss what in-person appointments mean for visitors, what’s available on the Social Security website, what to expect with widow increases, and more.
Because of the number of people with health vulnerabilities that visit Social Security offices, masks will be required regardless of vaccination status. Smith said there are also physical distancing measures in place, so visitors might have to wait outside or in a car if the lobby is too full.
Fenn said twice a year the Social Security office mails notices to widows and widowers currently receiving payment on deceased spouses. CPAs with clients in this position should be aware of these notices.
“If an individual files on their deceased spouse's record, and they have some Social Security earnings that they did not file for, for some individuals those monies that they did not file for could increase,” Fenn said. “Our system is automatically set up so that once the surviving spouses see the amount they could be receiving on their own is higher than the amount they’re receiving as a widow or widower, we will mail a notice out to them and encourage them to give us a call, so that way we could file for the higher payment.”
Sometimes the office will receive calls from CPAs asking if this is an option for their client, Fenn said, and he encouraged CPAs to call their local office to verify this information.
“And we can review that and let them know that maybe they're getting $1,000 now, and they're eligible for $1,100 or $1,050, whatever it may be on their own,” he said.
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