As the gears of our government machine grind down to (at least a partial) halt, there are many questions about how the Social Security Administration and its disability program will be affected.  According to the SSA’s 2013 Contingency plan, it is expected that we will likely encounter the following changes during the period of the shut down…

At your Local Field Office, you should still be able to file new applications for benefits, request appeals on denied claims, and make changes to your personal account, like updating your mailing address or your payee. 

If you already receive benefits, payments should continue as usual.

Unfortunately, at the Local Office level, for anything else you may be out of luck — SSA plans to discontinue a number of other basic services, such as the issuance and replacement of Social Security cards, FOIA requests, benefit verifications, corrections to earnings record, and replacement Medicare cards.

At the Disability Determination Services level, other than a possible slow-down in response time, we are hopeful that most regular disability claims will be processed Business As Usual.  Discontinued at this level will be Continuing Disability Reviews and quality assurance reviews.

At Social Security hearing offices, ALJ’s will continue to hold hearings and make decisions on disability claims that are already scheduled.  However, it is unclear what additional activity will occur at this level, including the scheduling of new hearings, pre-hearing organization and work-up of files, and even the writing of written hearing decisions …. all of these activities and many more are listed on the chopping block of “Discontinued Hearing Office Activities,” according to the 2013 contingency plan.

It is presently unclear whether there will be any significant delays in the processing of your disability claims, and hopefully this shut down will only be very temporary.  BUT IN THE MEANWHILE, as we await resolution of this stand still, the best thing that you can do is to keep our office informed of medical updates and your own emergency situations (medical emergencies, home foreclosures, eviction notices etc…) so that when things get back to normal we will be able to continue to speed things along on your behalf…

For more information:  http://ssa.gov/pressoffice/shutdown2013.pdf