The SSA has imposed a partial hiring freeze, primarily affecting headquarters and regional office positions, saying it wants to “marshal all resources to improve public service.”

The freeze, which took effect July 31 with no public announcement, “applies to all headquarters components and their respective regional and field offices,” according to guidance the agency issued internally.

Prohibited actions for those positions include: filling vacant positions; extending existing appointments or assignments; making existing temporary promotions or reassignments permanent; extending temporary or term appointments up to the maximum allowable time limit; hiring new or extending existing reemployed annuitant appointments; appointing administrative law judges, senior administrative law judges, and administrative appeals judges; component re-organization activities, including those pending or previously approved; establishing new positions; posting new external or internal vacancy announcements; and contracting for services currently provided by SSA employees unless approved by the office of budget.

Among personnel actions still allowed for those positions are: hiring readers, personal assistants, and translators in response to reasonable accommodations requests under the Rehabilitation Act; approving reassignments as part of reasonable accommodation requests; converting to the competitive service current employees serving under appointments with conversion authority; career ladder promotions, within-grade increases and changes in tenure; and personnel actions covered by a settlement agreement.

“Operations workload positions and their respective management and supervisory positions in the teleservice centers, processing centers, area and field offices, and state disability determination services are exempt from the hiring freeze,” the guidance says. Further, there is “an exception process to ensure that components are able to fill other critical positions.”