How will Government Shutdown Affect My Social Security Disability Case?

Date Last Updated: 1/20/2018

Many people wonder how the government shutdown will affect their disability case and disability benefits. For those who are already receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the shutdown will have very little effect on continuing benefits. They will still be able to receive their monthly checks and they still have their Medicare and Medicaid benefits. However, if they wish to make any adjustments to their benefits they may find it difficult to do so as many Social Security employees will not show up for work during the shutdown.

For those who have a disability case pending there are a few different ways that the shutdown could affect their pending disability case. The effect on their case will depend on two factors. First, which office is handling their case at the moment of the shutdown. Second, what stage their case is at. Since we handle disability cases at all stages, the first thing we will be doing Monday morning will be to investigate each office to find out how they will be handling the shutdown. Here is a list of the different Social Security offices and our analysis of how they will be affected. We will be updating this article as soon as we gather any additional information:

  • Local Social Security Field Offices:
    • This office is usually most involved in a disability case at the very beginning (when applying), and at the very end (when benefits begin to be paid).
    • You can still file applications, appeals, check status of pending disability cases.
    • You cannot make modifications to your account (e.g. change earnings history, immigration status, critical payments, obtain new social security cards or medicare cards.
  • ​Disability Determination Services (Austin Texas):
    • This office makes the disability decision on your case (after the field office processes the initial paperwork).
    • DDS is open and will be handling cases the same as before the shutdown. However, delays are to be expected because the number of staff will be limited.
  • ​Office of Hearing Operations:
    • This office handles the disability hearings with the administrative law judge.
    • Hearings that have been currently scheduled will continue without interruption.
    • Any cases that do not have a hearing scheduled including cases that have had a hearing but are waiting on a decision, will likely face increased delays depending on the amount of staff that do not work during the shutdown.
  • Payment Centers:
    • These offices are scattered across the country and they calculate the amount of benefits each person is entitled to. They also process the payment of past due benefits.
    • These offices are open and operating as they normally would without the shutdown.

What can I do?

The best thing you can do is contact your representatives and plead with them to end the government shutdown. The longer the shutdown lasts the more extreme the consequences are likely to become. Also, feel free to check back on this article which will be updated as we gather more information.

Specific questions? Contact a social security disability lawyer today. 


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