2020-7-28

Important Information About Reaching Social Security During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

By Jacqueline Weisgarber, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Richmond, VirginiaDuring the current coronavirus pandemic, we continue to provide help to you and other people in your communities.  While our offices are not providing service to walk-in visitors due to COVID-19, we remain ready and able to help you by phone with most Social Security business.  You can speak with a representative by calling your local Social Security office or our National 800 Number.  You can find local office phone numbers online by using our Social Security Office Locator at www.ssa.gov/locator

We offer many secure and convenient online services at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices, where you can:

  • 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.

Although you can do most of your business with us online, we know that service channel isn’t right for everyone.  You can still count on us by phone.  If you have a critical situation and we cannot help you with by phone or online, we may be able to schedule an appointment for you.

If you need help, please don’t wait until we can see you in person.  Call us now and get the help you need.  We also understand that getting medical and other documentation can be difficult due to the pandemic, so we are continuing to extend certain deadlines wherever possible.

Governor Northam Signs Legislation to Ease Transitions for Military Families

New laws improve expedited licensure process for military spouses

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed legislation to expedite the occupational and professional licensure process for military spouses during a special ceremony that kicked off the quarterly Virginia Military Advisory Council meeting.

Joining the Governor at today’s event at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond were Blue Star Families CEO and Board President Kathy Roth-Douquet, Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, State Senator David Suetterlein, Delegate Rodney Willett, and Delegate Carrie Coyner. Watch the video of today’s event here.

“As an Army veteran and as a Virginian, I am committed to ensuring the Commonwealth continues to provide an environment where our veterans and military families can thrive,” said Governor Northam. “Complex rules about license equivalence and the portability of certifications too often result in the unemployment or underemployment of military spouses. This legislation will enable the spouses of the men and women who serve our country to maintain their professional licenses and continue their careers in Virginia with a streamlined and simple process.”

Governor Northam was also joined by representatives of the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission to sign a Regional Intergovernmental Support Agreement that will improve the delivery of resources to their military installations in Northern Virginia. The support agreement strengthens the partnership between the Department of Transportation, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall to find opportunities for the use of transportation goods and services throughout the Northern Virginia region.

Virginia’s existing expedited application process for military spouses requires licensing boards to determine if a military spouse’s out-of-state license is equivalent within 20 days and issue an automatic one-year temporary license, affording the spouse the opportunity to begin finding employment immediately upon settling into their new communities. This legislation and process address the issue of portability of the professional and occupational licenses of military spouses.

“Taking care of military families is of the utmost importance to us,” said Delegates Rodney Willett and Carrie Coyner, and Senator David Suetterlein. “We are grateful for the opportunity to assist our service members, their families, and for being able to improve upon Virginia’s existing professional and occupation licensure process. This legislation expands access to transitioning service members, our National Guardsmen, and all of the military spouses of our neighboring states and Washington, D.C.”    

House Bill 967, sponsored by Delegate Rodney Willett and Senate Bill 981, sponsored by Senator David Suetterlein, improve Virginia’s expedited licensure process for the spouses of military service members assigned to installations and residing in the Commonwealth by:

  • Expanding access and eligibility to the spouses of service members in all surrounding jurisdictions;
  • Expanding access to the spouses of National Guardsmen who are active on federal orders to deploy oversees;
  • Expanding eligibility to the spouses of recently transitioned service members; and
  • Granting the Commonwealth’s licensing boards greater authority to determine a substantially equivalent license.
     

“This enhanced process will help our military spouses find employment opportunities quicker and without the stress of worrying if their credentials will carry over to Virginia,” said Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos L. Hopkins. “Implementing innovative ways to support our military families is one of the reasons Virginia continually ranks as one of the best states for service members, veterans, and their families.”

“Military spouses were hobbled before COVID-19, and our research forecasts that military spouse unemployment and underemployment rates could climb upwards of 30 percent and 77 percent, respectively, as we emerge from this public health and economic crisis,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “That’s why the expansion of Virginia’s expedited licensure policy is so key—it removes a critical barrier to military spouses working in the fields of their training. We are grateful to Governor Northam and the Virginia legislature for taking action on this important issue.” 

According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 34 percent of all military spouses in the labor force require an occupational or professional license. The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the Department of Health Professions administer the process of granting professional licenses for all professions regulated under Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia. Additional information about the licensure process for military personnel and their spouses is available here.



VIRGINIA STATE POLICE SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT FOR REACCREDITATION ASSESSMENT

RICHMOND – The public will have an opportunity to offer comments regarding the Virginia State Police when a national accreditation team assesses the Department in August. The Virginia State Police is in the process of reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA).

“Accreditation provides both the Department and the public with quality assurance that the Virginia State Police is in step with today’s policing standards and practices,” said Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent. “We welcome the CALEA assessment team and the public’s input concerning this process and our abilities to fulfill our mission to best serve and protect the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

When the Virginia State Police achieved its initial accreditation from CALEA in 1986, the Department was only the second state law enforcement agency in the nation to receive this prestigious recognition.  Since then, the Virginia State Police has successfully maintained an accredited status. The reaccreditation process takes place every four years.

The public is invited to share its comments with the CALEA site-based assessment team on Aug. 3, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through a public information session on the Virginia State Police official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VirginiaStatePolice.

If for some reason an individual cannot participate during the public information session, but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he/she may do so by telephone or written correspondence.  The assessment team will be available to take phone calls Aug. 3, 2020, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. A toll-free telephone number has been established for those wishing to contact the team: 1-866-468-4903. Telephone comments during the public information session are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Department’s ability to comply with CALEA standards.

Those wishing to offer written comments about the Department’s ability to meet reaccreditation standards are requested to write: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia 20155 or email calea@calea.org with a subject line of, “VSP Public Comment.”

The CALEA assessment team is comprised of the following law enforcement practitioners:  Mr. W. Dean Register, Director of the Criminal Justice Professionalism Division of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Mr. Geoffrey Ice, (retired) of the Connecticut State Police.

Through the review of written materials, and interviews, the assessors will examine the Department’s policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services for compliance with CALEA standards. The assessment process ensures that the Department regularly reviews all aspects of its operations and is in compliance with law enforcement standards established by the Commission.

A copy of the CALEA standards can be viewed by the public at the State Police Administrative Headquarters at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in North Chesterfield County.  For those with additional questions, please contact Ms. Vanessa Casale, Virginia State Police Accreditation Manager, at 804-674-2005.

CALEA was created in 1979 to develop a set of law enforcement standards and to establish and administer an accreditation process through which law enforcement agencies could demonstrate voluntarily that they meet professionally-recognized criteria for excellence in management and service delivery.

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