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Some Social Security Disability Cases May Be Delayed Due to Government Shutdown

As the federal government has "shut down" due to a lack of a funding agreement in Congress, Social security disability applicants and recipients are concerned about what will happen with their cases and social security benefits.

For persons who have not yet applied for social security disability benefits, they can still do so either online at www.ssa.gov or at their local social security office. According to staff at the Asheville, NC Social Security Office, all Social Security Administration field offices are open and operating.

A delay may be experienced, however, by disability applicants who are waiting for their cases to be reviewed or their case is at the request for reconsideration stage. Disability cases at this level are handled by state offices of Disability Determinations Services (DDS). Their funding, however, comes from the federal government. According to Social Security Administration Deputy Commissioner Michelle King, the Administration will "encourage the DDS to continue limited services during a lapse... with the understanding that we will reimburse (the employees) for their work once we receive funding". However, because DDS employees are state employees, the Social Security Administration "cannot direct the states to 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". Thus, disability applicants at this level in their appeal may experience a delay.

For social security disability applicants who have already appealed their disability case to the hearing level, there should be no delay in their disability case. According to a staff member at the Greenville, SC ODAR (Office for Disability Adjudication and Review), hearings are still being scheduled, disability judges are working, and there should be no delay in having these disability hearings heard.

For persons who are currently receiving social security disability benefits, there should be no change or delay in disability benefits. Social security disability (SSDI) is funded from current taxpayer contributions and SSI benefits have ongoing federal funding. According to a memorandum released by Social Security Administration regarding the shutdown, "Indefinite trust funds supply Title II and Title XVIII benefits. General revenues fund Title XVI payments". Thus, disability payments should arrive on schedule.

In addition to these impacts, the Social Security Administration reports that it expects to furlough almost 53,000 employees across the nation until the government can pass a spending bill.

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