Identification Number:
Intended Audience:All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs
Originating Office:DCO OPSOS
Title:In-Office Appointments Guidance
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM.
Retention Date: 03/08/2022

A. Purpose
This Emergency Message (EM) provides Field Offices (FO) and Social Security Card Centers (SSCC) instructions regarding how to determine when to schedule an in-office appointment, given the current posture.

B. Background
SSA offers a variety of service channels: online, telephone, in-person, and mail. We continue to encourage the use of online and phone services prior to scheduling in-office interviews. Additionally, service options to support those channels, such as Express Interviews (EXI) for in-person, and Drop Boxes for mail, where available, continue to be options for brief interactions and evidence collection.

While mail continues to offer an additional channel for the public to communicate with us, you must discourage customers from mailing important documents that they should keep secure and maintain in their possession, such as driver’s licenses, passports, or immigration documents. If they prefer, customers may choose to mail us secondary evidence of identity and less sensitive material.

Effective immediately, FOs and SSCCs will follow the in-office appointment criteria outlined in Section C to identify situations that may be appropriate for an in-office appointment, based on customer needs, workloads, and local in-office staffing support.

C. Criteria for In-Office Appointments
In-office appointments are available for two reasons:

    1. To address a limited, critical need and the customer is unable to use our automated services to meet that need, for example:
        · Immediate Payments
        · Death corrections
        · Economic or health support
            i. To access health benefits
            ii. To access or maintain housing or other state, local or federal benefits
            iii. To obtain income or resources
        · Certain enumeration actions including:
            i. Customer needs an Original SSN card
            ii. Customer requires a replacement card in order to obtain income, resources or medical care or coverage, or other services or benefits.
    2. If SSA needs to review original documents:

      · You may offer the customer an in-office appointment.
      · Consider EXI (see EM-21041) before scheduling a full-appointment.
      · Discourage the customer from parting with important documents that they should keep secure and maintain in their possession.
          o Example: Driver’s licenses, passports, or immigration documents.

    · Technicians will review and use EM-21018, Enumeration: Temporary Option for Accepting Secondary Level Documents as Proof of Identity for U.S. Citizens in Limited Situations, which provides the customer with additional options regarding providing proof of identity.
    · Do NOT schedule an in-office appointment for initial claims or redeterminations unless a customer meets one of the above-prioritized criteria.
    · Discourage customers from submitting important documents by mail or drop box that they should keep secure and maintain in their possession, such as driver’s licenses or passports.
    · Do NOT request a non-citizen to submit his or her immigration documents by mail or using the drop box, per GN 00303.610.B.

D. Pre-Screening for an Appointment
Before scheduling the in-person appointment, use instructions in EM-20028 REV 3 to screen the caller.

E. Scheduling and Confirming the Appointment
        1. Establish the appointment, per your office procedures.
        2. Enter the reason for the interview in the Remarks section of VIPr or eLAS.
            o If scheduling the appointment as an Express Interview, follow guidance in EM-21041 regarding topic codes specific to EXI.

NOTE: Offer the individual an option for a touchless way to check-in via VIPr Mobile, when they arrive to the office on the day of their appointment. If they opt-in, send them an email or text via eMailer (see MSS21-012 VIPr).

Please direct all program-related and technical questions to your Regional Office (RO) support staff via vHelp. RO support staff may refer questions, concerns or problems to their Central Office contacts.


EM 20010 SEN REV 8 E.9 Disaster Procedures – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
EM 20028 REV 3 Disaster Procedures – In-Office Visitor Screening During COVID-19
RM 10210.405 Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card
GN 00301.275 Retention or Return of Documents
EM 21041 Express Interviews for Evidence and Enumeration Actions
GN 00301.030 Acceptability of Documentary Evidence
GN 00303.610 Verifying Immigration Documents
MSS21-012 VIPr Visitor Intake Process (VIPr) –VIPr Mobile Check-in
EM 21035 REV – Vulnerable Populations Application Coding Instructions
In-Person Interview Decision Tree

EM-21056 - In-Office Appointments Guidance - 09/08/2021