Social Security: How Does the Government Shutdown Affect You and Your Benefits?

The unprecedented government shutdown continues to drag on and everyone is starting to feel the sting. Federal workers are missing their paychecks, the lines at the airport continue to grow, and people are starting to worry about what will happen next. While many government departments are still operating as planned, it is a valid question to ask what department will be the next to close. With so many people depending on their Social Security benefits to put food on the table, pay their bills, and pick up their medications, it is understandable to be concerned. How is the shutdown affecting the Social Security Administration? How is the shutdown impacting their benefits?

The Social Security Administration is Still Open

For now, everyone needs to know that the Social Security Administration is still operating as planned. While this might help everyone breathe a sigh of relief, for now, the Social Security Administration is funded until September. What this means is that benefits are still being paid on schedule. Hearings are still being held for those applying for or asking for a change in their benefits. Current claims are still being processed. This means that those who are seeing their checks come in the mail on a regular basis can relax for the time being; however, it is a good idea to have a contingency plan in place.

What Happened the Last Time the Government was Shut Down?

For those who are wondering what will happen to the Social Security Administration during a shutdown, it is a good idea to analyze what happened the last time this happened. In general, if the government shuts down, the essential services will remain functional. This means that Social Security and Medicare, considered essential, continue to operate. This is why checks are still going out. On the other hand, nonessential services are closed. This is where the impacts will be felt. Those seeking out these nonessential services are going to notice delays. Some of these include:

  • Those calling the Social Security Administration who are looking for information or who have questions
  • People who are trying to make a change in their benefits
  • Those who are trying to apply for new benefits

These impacts are real and families are going to be hurt by a shutdown. These delays show up because many of the employees who man these positions are not considered essential and, therefore, will be sent home. For example, a report that was issued after the government was shut down in 2013 noted numerous delays. Their statistics include:

  • Close to 1,600 medical determinations were delayed on a daily basis during the shutdown
  • Nearly 10,000 Social Security recertifications were also delayed during the last shutdown

These numbers paint a very clear picture of how the shutdown is going to impact the Social Security Administration and people’s benefits.

Planning for the Future

So far, none of the employees for the  Social Security Administration have been placed on furlough. Because the budget that was approved back in September should fund the department for an entire year, people at the Social Security offices should continue to work. On the other hand, it is important for families to think about what they will do if, for some reason, they see a delay in their benefits. Good ideas to think about include:

  • Cutting back on discretionary spending
  • Trying to save money on utilities
  • Thinking about sales that can reduce the grocery bill

Lastly, nobody should ever feel alone during such a difficult time. Where can people turn for assistance during their time of need?

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Assistance

As the government shutdown continues to drag on, it is hard to predict what will happen next. Some people are already feeling the stings in other areas of their life. With this in mind, it is understandable for people to be concerned about delays in their Social Security benefits. Many families depend on these checks to keep their lights on, put food on the table, and keep a roof over their head. For now, the department is funded until September; however, many people out there might still have questions. Anyone who is concerned should know that help is available. Contact an experienced Social Security attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah today for help navigating the legal process.

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