Social Security Office Dispenses Information for People Affected by Hurricane

The Social Security Administration says it is doing everything it can to ensure that monthly payments get to beneficiaries affected by Hurricane Katrina.

If you are not able to go to a temporary mail delivery station you can go to any open Social Security office and request an immediate payment. If a person receives their payment by direct deposit the funds are scheduled to be deposited to their account as usual.

Social Security employees can get information about the operating status of affected offices by dialing the national emergency number at 1-866-772-2996. If you are a member of the public wishing to contact Social Security, you may call 1-800-772-1213.

Section 1135 of the Social Security Act allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive Medicare, Medicaid, or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements to protect the public health and welfare in times of national crisis.

“We’ve spent this important week providing for the immediate health care needs of hurricane victims and the public health needs of the Gulf Coast, which will remain ongoing efforts,” said Secretary Mike Leavitt of the Health and Human Services Office.

Replacing a lost Social Security card is free.

The Postal Service also wants to re-connect Katrina victims with their mail and is asking them to fill out a change of address card and they can do so electronically at usps.com. Hurricane victims without telephone or Internet services should go to the nearest post office, complete a change-of-address form and submit it to a postal retail associate at the counter or mail it in postage-free.

A former Red Cross volunteer, Shirley Collars, 68, in Biloxi, Miss. relocated to a Red Cross shelter at Biloxi High School. Because of her training she knew what to bring and how to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster. Surrounded by chaos and destruction outside, Collars sat serenely in her wheelchair, newspaper in her lap in the safety of the shelter. Though it has been several years since Collars has been a volunteer she still is willing to help.

All American Red Cross disaster services are free, made possible by volunteer donations or time and money from the American people.

For more information, go to disasterhelp.gov. On that site you can apply for assistance online.

HUD Housing is also available at hud.gov.

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