What Happens to Social Security Disability in a Government Shutdown?


What happens to my SSDI payments if the government shuts down?
What happens to my SSDI hearing if the government shuts down?
What happens to my SSDI application if the government shuts down?

**10/3/2013 Update here**

With the Times-Picayune reporting that David Vitter supports a government shutdown in the fall, many New Orleans-area Social Security Disability claimants and recipients are wondering how a government shutdown would affect them and their benefits.

Will I still receive my Social Security Disability benefits if the government shuts down?

If the government should ever shut down again as it did in 1995, all Social Security payments will most likely continue to be sent out on time. This includes Social Security Disability.

During the last major shutdown, which lasted about a month, the Social Security Administration mailed checks throughout the shutdown. Social Security was able to continue mailing benefits due to the fact that doesn’t need Congress to authorize funds for it each year. Instead, Social Security benefits are considered mandatory spending and are paid from the program’s trust fund, and therefore the agency has the funds to continue paying benefits. In 1995, Social Security maintained enough employees to continue mailing checks without delay.

Since payments are now direct deposited and/or loaded onto debit cards, Social Security could most likely continue processing payments with fewer employees than were needed to mail benefit checks during the 1995 shutdowns. The SSA‘s 2011 government shutdown contingency plan stated that benefits would continue to be paid as scheduled.

What happens to my scheduled Social Security Disability hearing if the government shuts down?

Most likely, hearing offices will continue to hold Social Security Disability and SSI hearings if a shutdown occurs. According to the SSA’s 2011 government shutdown contingency plan, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) would still hold hearings, but staffing will only be Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), medical experts, vocational experts, and security personnel. Lack of support personnel would most likely cause delays in scheduling hearings, exhibiting files and writing decisions.

What happens to my Social Security Disability application if the government shuts down?

During the Clinton-era shutdown, new Social Security claims were not being processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees. As the shutdown wore on, the agency adjusted its plan and recalled workers to start processing new claims. Whether new claims are processed at all or with delay due to less workers will depend on how many employees the SSA decides to maintain and how many they decide to furlough.

The SSA’s 2011 government shutdown contingency plan stated that new and pending Social Security applications would continue to be processed as well as requests for appeals. The most likely scenario is that applications will be processed but with some delay.  The delay will be dependent on how many employees are retained and how long the shutdown lasts.

Most of the time, threats of a shutdown are averted at the last minute. Hopefully the same happens this time.

For more information see:

This post was created by Greater New Orleans SSDI attorney and long-term disability lawyer Loyd J. Bourgeois on Louisiana Disability Law and is for educational purposes only. The social security disability or long-term disability information provided here is no substitute for speaking with or seeking assistance from a Louisiana lawyer familiar with social security disability claims or long-term disability claims.
7 Responses to What Happens to Social Security Disability in a Government Shutdown?
  1. […] more, visit one of these […]

  2. […] A few weeks ago I wrote about the potential effects of a government shutdown on the Social Security system. […]

  3. Dan Williams
    October 7, 2013 | 7:40 AM

    How can applications for Disability be delayed any more? We already have to wait 6 months to a year between responses. I’ve been fighting for 7 1/2 years, appealing the second run-through’s hearing which was a year ago. That’s with a seizure disorder and being unemployed for 8 years.

  4. jamie fritsch
    October 7, 2013 | 7:29 PM

    I am on ssi will I still get my money on the first of the moths my husband is also on ssi if you stop it we won’t have nothing this is all we have

  5. Shaliena
    October 11, 2013 | 10:05 AM

    Since the government shutdown is going on will i be getting my ssi in November 1st 2013???

  6. Lawrence Dale Cmar
    October 16, 2013 | 3:12 PM

    I am a disabled wounded veterans who receives benefits on the 1st of the month from the VA department. I also received Social Security disability on third Wednesday of the month. Due to a gunshot wound I received and PTSD I’m unable to work. If oct 19th comes around and our government can’t fix this problem because they’re so dysfunctional will I receive my November payments? Because if I don’t I will be become instantly homeless with nowhere to go including living in my car because it will get repossessed.. could someone ease my mind and tell me the truth!

  7. laura
    October 16, 2013 | 8:06 PM

    from my understanding from the information I have been gathering. the social security disability will still continue on schedule. this isn’t the first time the government has been shut down and surely not the last but from what I gather it will still continue as planned. I can only hope and pray that it still does continue but I have read many sources and it states the same thing that it will still continue. I myself and my children are on disability and I am on edge because I know what the outcome would be if indeed it was dropped and i know the impact it would have on those that get this as well. as for the person with the claims, the papers would be slightly delayed but still continue due to the people in office at the social security office. the wait will take a while for sure but it will still go as planed. all it did was delay the papers in action.

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