How will the 2011 government shutdown affect Social Security

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Update 04/09/11: never mind – budget compromise reached.

What will happen to Social Security if/when the government shuts down on midnight April 8, 2011?

Fortunately, for those already on Social Security, the checks (including direct deposit) will keep coming.

However, those needing to take care of business with Social Security, or need to get problems resolved, may have more problems. Social Security has a shutdown contingency plan (pdf link – 1.85 mb) indicating the following continuing services, cutbacks and reductions:

We will keep on duty those employees providing front-line services to our beneficiaries and claimants. … We will limit the services we provide during the lapse to those needed to ensure that we pay benefits accurately and timely over the long term.

For example, we will continue taking and adjudicating applications and processing appeals.

However, we will not provide other services that the public has come to expect, such as issuing new and replacement Social Security cards and updating earnings records.

In addition, we will reduce the hours we are open to the public to ensure we complete services without the need for overtime.

We will authorize State disability determination services (DDS) to continue limited services during a lapse. The DDSs make medical determinations on our disability claims. We fully fund the DDSs, but the DDS employees are State employees. The DOSs are an integral part of our claims processing; without their contributions, we would be unable to adjudicate our disability claims. Therefore, during a lapse in appropriations, we will authorize the DDSs to continue claims processing activities.

This letter also described which activities will continue and which will be discontinued in the event of a shutdown:

Continued Field Office operations:

  • Applications for benefits (including appointments).
  • Requests for appeals (reconsiderations, hearings, and Appeals Council)
  • Benefit verifications
  • Normal post-entitlement actions (change of address, Supplemental Security Income living arrangement changes, non-citizen verification/changes, direct deposit, death reviews inputs, etc).
  • Non-receipts and critical payments
  • Payee changes
  • Critical information technology (IT) support for daily processing activities

Discontinued Field Office Activities:

  • Original and replacement Social Security cards.
  • Benefit verifications
  • Earnings record corrections and updates
  • Payee accountings
  • Completing program integrity workloads (redeterminations, continuing disability reviews (CDR), overpayments)
  • Prisoner activities
  • Requests from third parties for queries
  • Request for Numi-lites (i.e., Social Security number verifications)
  • Freedom of Information Act (FOJA) requests
  • Replacement Medicare Cards

Creative Commons License photo credit: HaPe_Gera

Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter

  • Disability Help

    Hi Tomasz,

    I am glad that we were able to avoid a federal government shutdown.

    However, it seems like most of the issue’s related to Social Security Disability would have still been operational even during a shutdown? Would the shutdown have increased wait times for hearings and/or delayed the arrival of monthly checks?

  • TomaszStasiuk

    As noted in the post, monthly checks were to be unaffected. However, I cannot imagine how SSA could possibly avoid adding to processing times when if a portion of staff were not coming in.