In the middle of the longest government shutdown in US history, many people receiving benefits or looking to get on benefits under Social Security Disability have questions.

Already Receiving Benefits? Here’s Some Good News.

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.

Starting a New Claim or Have a Pending Claim? Prepare To Wait.

You can still apply for benefits for the first time or appeal your decisions. However, processing of applications and appeals will be delayed due to the shutdown. We advise you to continue the process of your applications and appeals as you have originally planned because failure to submit these forms may cause you to miss out on some of your benefits.

Disability claims that are currently pending will continue to be processed by the Social Security Office, just at a much slower rate due to their short staffing. If your hearing has already been scheduled, your hearing will continue without interruption. The painful impact of the shutdown will last long after funding for the government resumes. Typically, when people talk about the cost of the government shutdown, they focus on things like unpaid federal workers, the closure of US parks, and TSA workers who walk off the job and leave our airport security compromised. These are all important. However, the secondary damage is even more widespread and often goes unreported.

Be Heard. Contact Your Representative.

The government shutdown of 2013 lasted only 16 days, but the scheduling of new disability hearings were delayed for more than six months – sometimes longer. Those that are waiting for a medical decision, hearing decision, or waiting for a hearing to be scheduled will likely face increased delays. The best thing you can do is contact your representatives and plead with them to end the government shutdown.

We are working with the government to make sure that the delays are minimized as much as possible, and we are helping our clients connect with CareLink and other charitable organizations that can provide assistance during this time of need. We can all do our part, and we can only hope that our elected officials do theirs.

Specific questions? Contact a social security disability lawyer today.