If there is a government shut down, what does that mean for Social Security Disability recipients? In short, not very much. If you are already receiving a monthly check, you will continue to receive your check as scheduled every month. This is part of a contingency plan set in place by the federal government. If you are not already receiving benefits, you may be affected in terms of how quickly your claim is processed. One thing to note is that hearings will proceed as scheduled, you will be able to file new applications, and your claims at the initial and reconsideration stages will continue to be processed.
It is a scary thought thinking about a prolonged government shutdown, especially for those receiving Social Security Disability benefits. However, here is some background information.
THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN IN 2018 AND 2019
The United States federal government was shut down three times in 2018. The first government shutdown occurred in January, the second in February, and the most recent shutdown began on December 27, which as of January 9, 2019, is still continuing. During this shutdown, all essential services will continue, such as public safety operations and Medicare payments. Services such as national parks have been deemed non-essential and are thus closed until the government can be re-opened. In addition, this current shutdown will have little effect upon the Social Security Administration (SSA). Checks will continue to be paid out, including those for Social Security Disability.
The Social Security contingency plan notes most core programs and benefits will continue during a shutdown. This current shutdown only affects those programs which are funded annually by Congress. The Social Security trust fund is paid for through September 2019, and thus should not be affected by the partial government shut down.
YOU MAY FEEL SOME EFFECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN
Even though the SSA is funded through September 2019, the administration will feel some effects of this shutdown. Some employees will experience a furlough, making a system that already moves at a snail’s pace, move even slower. Disability hearings will continue, applications will be processed, and checks will be released. But individuals in the Social Security Disability application process will still feel a slight slowdown until the government is re-opened. While it is good news that Social Security will remain open during this partial shut down, it is not good news knowing things may move even slower than they already have been.
If you have concerns about your Social Security Disability application process or general concerns about the government shut down, you should reach out to your local congressperson. You can do so either by calling the office of your representative directly or by contacting your Social Security Disability attorney for your congressperson’s contact information. For a list of congressional representatives in Florida, click here.