COVID-19, Disability, Supporting Our Most Vulnerable

Outreach to Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 2, 2021 • By

Last Updated: April 2, 2021

A photo headshot of SSA Commissioner Andrew SaulLast week, over 1,500 people joined me on a national conference call to learn how their organizations can help the Social Security Administration assist our most vulnerable populations during COVID-19. Participants included representatives of the non-profit community, health care organizations, private industry, Federal, State, and local government, and Congress. The response was nothing short of extraordinary and serves as an example of the public service spirit that unites us all.

Now, more than ever, it is vital that we join together to serve our most vulnerable populations. People who struggle with low-income, limited English proficiency, homelessness, or with mental illness, have historically relied on meeting with us in person at our local offices to get the help they need. With our offices currently unable to accept walk-in visitors to protect both our beneficiaries and our work force during the pandemic, it is essential that we continue to engage with the public online, on the telephone, and by appointment for limited, critical situations.

To address the challenge of continuing to serve those who need us most, we’ve joined with external partners to launch a new national outreach campaign. The goal of the campaign is to connect eligible individuals to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The SSI and SSDI programs provide critical financial assistance, including life-saving access to healthcare and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in many cases.

Key components of our outreach campaign include:

  • Working with community-based groups that can assist with taking applications for SSI and SSDI.
  • Launching a national advertising campaign on TV, radio, and social media, with emphasis on children with disabilities.
  • Adding a number of new online tools and informational pages, including:

I want to thank the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for working with us and sharing our website and products with their national network of faith and community leaders.

I also want to thank members of the claimant advocacy community for their collaboration on this campaign. We will feature their perspectives on serving vulnerable populations on this blog site over the coming weeks.

Please be sure to subscribe to this blog so that you receive alerts whenever we publish new articles from our partners. We will also share the latest information about our national outreach campaign here.

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About the Author

Commissioner of Social Security Administration (June 17, 2019 - July 9, 2021)


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  1. Mike C.

    We had great outreach projects during my DDS days (we made decisions for SS Disability and SSI). We teamed with SSA Claims Reps and would go to Native American towns in the middle of nowhere, Cibecue, Whiteriver, Window Rock, Chinle, Tuba City, some places that eventually got SSA offices years later. We had Drs with us doing exams, staff from the Indian Health Services would pull the claimant’s medical records in advance – that was my job, review them to see if we could make a fair decision or have a Dr exam them, even do X-rays, breathing tests and psychological testing (I could do that).

    We won awards for this, was praised by Native American communities and then as what happens to all good things – the government no longer had money for this, it ended.

    THAT is the kind of outreach needed, not just for Native Americans but for other vulnerable populations and in remote rural areas.

    It CAN be done, I know as I did it, even volunteered as they did have to ask me.

  2. Bill H.

    Great information about your plans to assist those in need

  3. val

    Yes, that’s nice talking to organizations but what about actually talking directly to the participants of SSI and SSDI. It can be done.

    We’ve had past presidents connect with the American Public using, YouTube and Facebook. I’m not impressed that you spoke with Groups and organizations, that’s what you all always do. Why not connect directly with the recipient’s themselves. I hope you are not afraid of the types of questions you might receive from SSI and SSDI participants?

    Finally, if you were amazed by the extraordinary response from organizations, imagine an equal lively informative conversation with the direct beneficiaries of SSI, SSDI programs.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Thank you

  4. Nicole J.

    Don’t waste your time on these tools!! You need to spend your time getting your job done instead of adding tools to your site telling other people how they can help do your job and fill in the gaps for Americans while you fail to do your job!

  5. John M.

    You can send the check distribution data to the IRS which you apparently we had no problem with the last two times because of the Social Security why am I having to wait. I pay no taxes because all I get is my Social Security and last time the money showed up within a week and a half or so. What gives. And apparently since there is an issue why have you not been keeping us up-to-date you have not said anything about what’s going on and where is my payment screen is absolutely useless its output is meaningless.

  6. Kathryn G.

    Where is my stimulus. I received the others with no issues while Trump was president. Now I’m needing it as my lights were turned off and food ruined before I could manage.

  7. Wrong E.

    Really? You are leaving disabled workers waiting for years for the SSD they are insured for, and your experts who validate the disabilities aren’t good enough for your cruel system with abusive unjust judges. But are multiple severe disabilities a reason one cannot work??? Despicable.

  8. Linda L.

    Bullshit. I am on Social Security Disability. Tried looking for a HUD application form. NOT EVEN TAKING APPLICATIONS????That’s what it says on every website I tried. Can’t even get on a list to wait, much less to be counted. I’m a 64 year old woman, income $1100 a month. Quit patting yourselves on the back for non-existent benefits to help the poor. It’s cruel.

  9. Susan G.

    Good Morning, I work for a State agency in WA State and am finding that many of the elderly and disabled clients we serve are having difficulty in getting through on your phone lines and many don’t understand technology so are not conducting business online. Is is possible to open up services in local offices to serve this population? Technology doesn’t work for all. Thank you.

    • Vonda

      Hi Susan, thanks for using our blog to reach out. We have referred your comments to our Regional Public Affairs Office to follow up with you on possibly partnering to reach out to our vulnerable populations. Thank you!

      • Nicole J.

        This has been a huge problem even if you ARE technologically inclined. It is difficult to get through the phone lines and once you get through, you don’t get answers, you get referred elsewhere to wait again, but mostly they want to refer you to the online site that doesn’t specifically answer your questions or you can’t find the answer because it is not user friendly. seems focused on the government-employee perspective, not the end users. Add on to that—many of your end users either don’t have the resources or the ability to utilize the website tools. It has been such a disservice to close these offices under the guise of public safety while such a large proportion of Americans are potentially and likely being harmed by this action. They could have remained open with adjustments.

        Kids are being sent to school but the so-called “non-essential” Federal Employees can be paid to “work” from home. How is this affecting their workloads and caseloads while thousands and thousands of Americans remain on hold or give up altogether? I will be asking my representatives for an audit and recommending others do the same. Not just on SSA but other Federal organizations also. While essential frontline services continue to make sure American’s needs are met, some of the Federal programs have sent their employees to work from home with little to no accountability. I am fed up with friends and family members not being able to get their needs met because of services not being available are being too difficult or lengthy to maneuver. That puts more burden on already strained other family and friends, if they have them. I am so saddened by the poor judgement in our leaders.

        • Vonda

          Hi Nicole, thanks for using our blog. Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how Social Security is still providing critical services during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  10. Gina M.

    Dear Madam or Sir:

    No one got in touch with me on a Flu Shot or Vaccine during Pandemic. I’m Homebound due Extra High Risk to my Disability. PCP & Clinical Immunologist told me to walk to near Pharmacy. My state finally put out phone number for Homebound Vaccination.

    Thank You,


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