If you are already receiving benefits under social security disability or supplemental security income, your benefits will continue. More specifically, the Social Security Administration has stated "Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments to beneficiaries will continue with no change in payment dates." As such, if you are already receiving benefits, I wouldn't worry -- at least not now -- about your benefits being suddenly cut off.
If you have already applied for benefits and are awaiting a decision, or if you are about to apply for benefits, I expect that you will experience a delay in the processing of your application. State disability determination offices, which make the initial determination of whether a person is disabled for purposes of receiving social security disability benefits, are funded at least in part by the Social Security Administration.
In a letter dated September 25, 2013 to the Office of Management and Budget, the Social Security Administration stated:
If we have a lapse in appropriations, we will encourage the [State] Disability Determination Services (DDSs) to continue limited services during a lapse . . . However, because DDS employees are State employees, we cannot direct the States to except or furlough their employees during a lapse. Each State will have to determine whether it can maintain limited DDS operations and pay its employees during a lapse.
I think it's fair to say that the further along in the process you are, the less of a delay you will experience. In other words, if you submitted your application and disability determination services is currently evaluating your claim, then any delay that you experience will be less than someone who has just submitted an application. If you just submitted an application, state disability determination services will process all applications that are pending and those applications that have been received before your application.
If you are appealing a denial of your application for social security disability benefits, the answer depends on if you already have a hearing scheduled. On the one hand, if your hearing has already been scheduled, then the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review will hear your case as scheduled, but you may experience a delay in having your case resolved.. On the other hand, if you have appealed but your hearing has not been scheduled, then you will experience even more of a delay than usual (I usually tell claimants that it will take over a year) in being assigned a hearing date and in resolving your case. Regardless of whether or not you have a hearing already scheduled, you can reasonably expect delays in getting a written decision.
If you have appealed to the Appeals Council after being denied at the hearing level, then you should expect that your appeal will take even longer than usual. Typically, I tell claimants that an appeal to the Appeals Council will take at least a year, and probably longer. The delay that you experience will depend, at least in part, on the length of the government shutdown.
I will monitor the government shutdown and post an update as conditions warrant. In the meantime, the Social Security Administration has a webpage that described the effect of the government shutdown on field offices and other social security services. I encourage you to visit that webpage for more information, especially if you are planning to visit a Field Offices because the services offered there are limited during the government shutdown. At any rate, here is a link for you:
Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents applicants and appellants in all stages of social security proceedings, from initial applications to appeals. Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today!
WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation. Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog. To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.