The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the weakest of Americans, including those who suffer a disability. As Social Security field offices around the country, including Georgia, continue to remain closed, thousands of disabled persons are struggling to meet their basic needs without access to disability benefits.
Field offices are where disability beneficiaries – who often do not have easy access to the internet – drop in to submit documentation such as medical reports, physical applications and appeals vital to the processing of their applications and the approval of their benefits. Unfortunately, as offices have remained closed, the number of Social Security beneficiaries who have been able to access these offices, has dropped. Before the pandemic, as many as 43 million Americans used these field offices. Since the office closures, many of them have been unable to submit their documents, correct errors and perform other activities that affect their applications.
The closures have had a direct impact on the number of persons who now receive Social Security benefits. During the year 2021, there has been a significant drop of 25 percent in the number of Americans who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, compared to 2019. In the case of disability benefits, the drop has been even more staggering with a 30 percent decline in beneficiaries. As many as half a million fewer Americans are now receiving Social Security disability benefits, compared to 2019.
Data shows that the drop continues, and as of September, the number of approved disability claims was 34 percent lower than during the same time in 2019.