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People with disabilities and their families often don't know exactly what kind of Social Security benefits they are receiving, and sometimes they lose their Social Security cards and can’t verify their number when needed. Getting benefits information and Social Security numbers from the Social Security Administration (SSA) will soon be a little more difficult.
Starting August 1, 2014, Social Security offices across the county will no longer offer Social Security number printouts to those who don't have their Social Security cards, forcing people who need to provide evidence of their Social Security numbers to apply for a mailed replacement card instead.
In addition, beginning on October 1, 2014, people who receive Social Security benefits of any kind -- including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments -- will be unable to obtain a letter explaining their benefits directly from their local Social Security office. Instead, anyone who needs an explanation of her benefits must apply for a letter online via the SSA's my Social Security program or by calling the Social SSA to ask for a mailed copy.
These two changes, which the SSA claims are due to "shrinking budgets" and to prevent fraud, mean that people with disabilities and their families seeking information on their Social Security benefits will either have to access a clumsy website or wait for days in order to obtain proof of benefits. In some cases, people who have lost their Social Security cards may lose out on jobs or other benefits because they have to wait for a new card to arrive in the mail instead of being able to go to their Social Security office and receive a printout confirming their Social Security number.
You can do several things to avoid problems when these changes take effect. First, obtain a new Social Security card now and leave a photocopy with your special needs planner. Second, make sure that you have a copy of your benefits letter and share it with your attorney. Third, whenever you receive a new explanation of benefits, or any other piece of correspondence from the SSA, send a copy to your lawyer, who probably needs to see it anyway. Fourth, set up a my Social Securityaccount now so that you can gain immediate access to your benefits letter in the future without having to come up with all of your personal information in a hurry. Finally, if you move, make sure that the SSA knows your new address so that the proper notices don't get lost in the mail.
For more information about the changes, click here.