How the Government Shutdown Affects Your Social Security Benefits

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Last night, the Senate failed to agree on a stopgap to continue government services. With the deadline passed, many social security disability claimants and recipients are wondering how this government shutdown will affect them and their benefits, application, and/or hearing. 

Will I still receive my social security disability benefits?

When the government shut down in 1995 and again in 2013, all social security payments continued to be sent out in time. This included social security disability. 

It is anticipated that just like the previous government shutdowns that social security disability payments will continue. Social Security benefits are considered mandatory spending and are paid from the programs trust fund, and therefore, the agency has the funds to continue paying benefits. 

What happens to my scheduled Social Security Disability hearing in a government shutdown?

Most likely hearing officers will continue to hold social security disability and SSI hearings if a shutdown occurs.  During the 2013 government, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) still held previously scheduled hearings, but staffing was limited to administrative law judges, medical experts, vocational experts, and security personnel. New hearings were not scheduled. Lack of support personnel caused delays in exhibiting files and decisions were not written during the shutdown. So, if a claimant was waiting for an already scheduled hearing, it in most cases proceeded and was decided. But, the writing of the decision did not take place so if benefits were granted there was a further delay before benefits were paid since the decisions was not actually formally written until the shutdown ended. 

What happens to my Social Security Disability application in a government shutdown?

The SSA’s 2013 government shutdown contingency plan stated that new and pending social security applications would continue to be processed as well as requests for appeals. However, because these functions are carried out by the state disability determination offices, each state will decide whether to continue these operations or stop them. The most likely scenario is that applications will be processed but with some delay. The delay will be dependent on how many employees are retained and how long the shutdown lasts. 

Bottom Line

Hopefully the government shut down will be resolved quickly. Regardless, benefits should still be paid. Scheduled hearings should also still move forward. There will likely be additional delays.

As more news unfolds about the situation, our attorneys will continue to provide answers to your questions and report on the 2018 contingency plan when/if it is released. 

Please do not hesitate to call our office or submit a form on our website if you have any additional questions.

 

 

Alexandra Nowlin