SeniorSource: A Newsletter from U.S. Senator Susan Collins

A Message from the Social Security Administration: July 7, 2020

On behalf of the Social Security Administration (SSA), I/we want to let you know that during the current coronavirus pandemic, SSA continues to provide help to you and others in your community.

While their offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors due to COVID-19, SSA remains committed to providing ongoing benefits and vital services.  SSA asked me to let you know that they remain ready and able to help you by phone with most Social Security matters. You can speak with a representative by calling your local Social Security office or their National 800 Number.  They provide local office phone numbers conveniently online with their Social Security Office Locator.

SSA also wants you to know they have many secure and convenient online services to:

  • Apply for Retirement, Disability, and Medicare benefits,
  • Check the status of an application or appeal,
  • Request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas),
  • Print a benefit verification letter, and
  • Much more.

Most business with SSA can be done online, but they know that many people still rely on phone or in-person help.  That’s why they want you to know you can still count on them by phone. And, if you have a critical situation they cannot help you with by phone or online, they may be able to schedule an appointment for you.

If you need help from SSA, please don’t wait until they can see you in person.  Reach out now and get the help you need.

Lastly, SSA also understands that getting medical and other documentation can be difficult due to the pandemic.  So, they are continuing to extend certain deadlines wherever possible.

 A Commitment to Equity & Inclusion from the Maine Council on Aging

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has challenged us all in many ways. For nearly all of us, we have had the shared experience of having our lives and expectations completely upended. Many of us have found comfort and support in this shared experience; it has brought us closer together and shown us how resilient we are. We will need this resiliency as we turn our attention to addressing the severe inequities and pervasive injustices this pandemic has laid bare.   

COVID-19 is not an equal opportunity virus. Anyone can get the virus, but it is more likely to claim the lives of those who have compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions, and chronic diseases. This is one reason that people 60 and older represent more than 80% of the people who have died in America. It also claims the lives of those can’t get quality health care treatment once they are ill, either because they lack insurance, lack access to quality care, or will be discriminated against because of the color of their skin, the language they speak, and even their age.   

Nationally, while black people make up only 13% of the population, they account for 23% of all COVID-19 deaths. In Maine, people who identify themselves as black or African American account for 13% of Maine’s COVID-19 positive cases even though they only represent 1.6 percent of the state’s population. These numbers underscore long-standing health disparities exposed by the virus.  

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has prompted us all to look at the ways systemic racism is playing out in our spheres of influence, especially in light of COVID-19. Before his murder and subsequent worldwide demonstrations in support of racial equity, the Maine Council on Aging was grappling with how best to start a broader conversation about the value of older people in light of overt ageism during COVID-19 that has led to terms like “Boomer Remover” and statements that old people are willing to die to reopen the economy. Now, we are asking the broader questions, why do some people matter more than others, and how can we dismantle policies and practices that disproportionately negatively impact those who are devalued?   

As an advocacy organization in the whitest state in the country that works to ensure we can alllive healthy, engaged, and secure lives as we age in our homes and communities, we commit to being agents of equity and inclusion for older adults in our state, particularly people of color. We commit to deepening our understanding of racial equity, hosting uncomfortable conversations, and joining others in reimagining equitable systems of care and community.   

Because systems have been completely upended by COVID-19, now is a perfect time for a reset. Our “new normal” makes space for change and our new knowledge of our own resiliency gives us the courage we need to pursue the change we want to see. And, we must. We must speak out and take action until we ensure that older black, brown, and native lives matter in Maine.
Here are some tools that can help:  

Nonprofit Quarterly: A Nonprofit Path to Racial Justice: Linking Policy to Moral Leadership Click here to read more  

Racial Equity Tools Click here to read more  

Endowment for Health: Race and Equity Series in New Hampshire Click here to Watch the Video

Maine Council on Aging Upcoming Events

See upcoming events from the Maine Council on Aging, Tri-State Learning Collaborative on Aging, and more from around the state on the MCOA Events Page