At midnight on Saturday, January 20, the federal government began procedures to rollback services for many agencies, the effect of a partial government shutdown.
And by Monday, January 22, the shutdown was already over with little interruption in services. There is, however, the chance, of another government shutdown on Feb. 8.
Federal government shutdowns have occurred periodically since 1980, with the last one happening in 2013. These shutdowns can last several days or several weeks until Congress can come up with a spending bill.
The most noticeable effect of a government shutdown is that government employees who are considered nonessential are put on unpaid furlough for the length of the shutdown. These workers have always received back pay when the shutdown ends.
Social Security offices around the country may be short staffed.
But the good news for those with pending disability applications or those who are already receiving benefits is that they should see little to no change in how the Social Security Administration operates in the event of a shutdown.
SSA will continue to accept new applications for benefits. Hearings should go on as scheduled, and disability offices should continue to accept new medical evidence for cases without any issues.
During a government shutdown, administrative law judges will continue to issue decisions on cases they hear, and there shouldn’t be any increase in wait time for these decisions (currently 3-4 months in most cases).
If you are already receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you will continue to receive this money without interruption.
One change that some claimants might see, is that according to the shutdown contingency plan SSA released in December 2017, its unclear if the Appeals Council will continue to accept and make decisions during a shutdown.
The Appeals Council hears cases that have been appealed from decisions made at the hearing level by administrative law judges.
A lengthy government shutdown could mean that claimants waiting for decisions from the Appeals Council could be looking at a significant delay before receiving their decisions, though given that the most recent government shutdown lasted less than one business day, claimants waiting on Appeals Council decisions should see no significant increase in wait times.