Social Security Disability and the Federal Government Shutdown

The Government Shut Down and Your Social Security Disability Case

Recently, Congress failed to pass a budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal budget, resulting in a "shut down" of the federal government. The length of this shutdown is unknown. The last government shutdown, which occurred during the Clinton administration, lasted from December 16, 1995 until January 6, 1996. Regardless of the length, however, the question on most readers' minds is this: "how does the federal shut down affect my social security disability case?"

If you already receive disability or retirement benefits, your benefit checks will continue to arrive as usual. The "trust fund" for social security is not part of the yearly budget of Congress, and until that "trust fund" runs out (currently projected in the year 2016 for the disability trust fund according to MSN Money) , it is somewhat unaffected by what Congress does year to year with its budget.

If you have had your hearing, but are waiting on a decision, then unfortunately, your decision may be delayed. According to staff at the Greenville, SC ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review), judges are working, but they have no staff. Therefore, they can take longer to get decisions out to applicants.

If you have a scheduled hearing, your hearing date will continue as scheduled.

If you are waiting to have a hearing scheduled, unfortunately, you may have a delay. The persons who perform the tasks of scheduling hearings are not working during the shut down.

If your case is still before the NC Disability Determination Services Division, (at initial application or request for reconsideration stages) there should not be a delay. At these first stages of a social security claim, the determinations are handled by a state agency run through the NC Department of Health and Human Services. As this agency is not a federal agency, the workers are not furloughed.

In short, no recipients of social security disability will be affected by the shutdown. If you have a pending case, there may be a delay in determining your eligibility for benefits depending on whether you are having a hearing. Hopefully, this delay will be minimal and the government will "re-open" for business soon.

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Each case is different. Many factors such as the severity of injuries, ability to prove liability, amount of liability insurance coverage, jurisdiction, medical expenses, and many other factors can determine the outcome of a particular case. You should not use these examples as a representation of what recovery you will obtain in your particular case, as every case is unique. Ruth Smith does not guarantee that the outcome of your case will be similar to the results listed above.