The federal government needs to develop more flexible options for people to file for Social Security benefits as the pandemic has forced field offices to remain closed, Rep. John Katko on Monday said. 

The closures have affected about 1,500 Social Security filed offices, impacting those who present original documents such as driver's licenses in order to have their claims processed. 

“The continued closure of Social Security Administration’s (SSA) field offices due to the ongoing pandemic has created hardship for many Central New Yorkers,” said Katko, who represents the central New York area in Congress. “In particular, the closures have especially impacted those I’ve heard from who have to produce original documents, such as a driver’s license or passport, to process a SSA claim or access services through the agency."

Mailing original documents as required by the Social Secutiy Administration is a less-than-perfect solution to the problem, Katko said, presenting beneficiaries with security concerns.  

"I’m urging the SSA to implement new and flexible approaches that allow Central New Yorkers to process their claims and access vital services without having to part with their important documents," he said. 

Some solutions being considered include drop boxes, online meetings and express appointments. Social Security offices prior to the public health crisis saw as many as 800,000 visits a week.