Social Security offices across the country are about to open their doors for the first time in more than two years.

The Social Security Administration said that field offices will reopen to the public for in-person services beginning Thursday.

Appointments will not be necessary, but they are recommended to reduce wait times.

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Social Security closed its more than 1,200 offices in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in what agency officials described as an effort to protect employees and beneficiaries, many of whom are at high risk from the virus. Nearly all of the agency’s business with the public has been conducted by phone, online and through the mail since that point.

Field offices were expected to reopen earlier this year, but concerns from labor unions representing Social Security employees pushed things back.

“Given that many of the people we serve have health vulnerabilities, and consistent with our union agreements, we are continuing to require certain safety measures including masking, physical distancing and self-health checks for COVID-19 symptoms,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration. “We will provide masks to the public and employees if they need them.”

Kijakazi said the agency has taken steps to help make the reopening process smooth including bringing in recently retired employees. However, she recommended trying the agency’s online services first or choosing to call or visit an office later in the month in order to minimize waiting.

Over 69 million Americans receive monthly payments from Social Security, including 8 million Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries, many of whom have disabilities.

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