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When Will SSA Offices Reopen?

Empire Justice Center April 30, 2020

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) have issued a joint memorandum to federal agencies providing guidelines on resuming more normal operations once the immediate threat posed by Covid-19 declines.

 

The memo, which was clearly written by bureaucrats, does not give a definitive answer on when agencies will or should reopen. But is seems clear there will not be a national order to re-open all the agencies across the country at the same time. According to the memo, “State and regional assessments should be the starting point for discussions and decisions related to Federal agency operations, but additional factors may include: school and daycare closures, mass transit availability, parking availability, facility requirements, and missions.” And reopenings must be consistent with the three-phased approach announced in the national guidelines for Opening Up America Again.

 

The memo discusses ending mandatory telework, but leaves open the possibility for telework to be continued in various permutations. For example, rotating workers may return to the worksite on certain days, with others teleworking.  But agencies must maximize telework flexibilities for workers within the populations the CDC has recognized as high risk for serious complication from COVID-19, including pregnant women and employees 65 and older. And there is acknowledgement of the potential necessity for face masks, availability of hygiene supplies, and social distancing.

 

Query whether SSA will recognize the need to apply different rules for claimants who are older or at higher risk once it reopens?