At the height of the pandemic, many Social Security offices closed, and in-person appointments and assistance were not available. As a result, many Minnesota applicants struggled to get the help they needed to complete their Social Security claims, file an appeal or simply get the information they needed regarding their claim. Many poor and disabled individuals were underserved by the SSA, and many are still waiting for answers or struggling to navigate the claims process.
The effects of the shutdown
For over 20 months, many SSA offices were closed completely. Before the shutdown, 43 million Americans relied on these locations for walk-in services and personal assistance. This was especially important for low-income applicants who may be struggling with English proficiency, mental disabilities, housing instability and other factors that may affect their ability to file a claim.
Estimates suggest that the shutdown and office closures affected as many as 500,000 individuals. As the SSA plans to reopen offices in the near future, it is reasonable to assume that it will take time to get through the backlog of applications and address other needs. There are suggestions that the SSA should allocate more resources to low-income and underserved areas during the reopening phase.
Assistance at every step
The Social Security disability claims process is overwhelming and confusing. A Minnesota applicant will find it beneficial to work with an experienced attorney who can help them navigate every step. With guidance, one will have a higher chance of a successful initial claim or success with whatever subsequent steps are necessary.