Harlan Still & Koch

How the government shutdown might affect business at the SSA

Readers in the Columbia area who receive Social Security Disability benefits no doubt have been following the partial federal government shutdown with great interest. No matter your opinion on the politics involved, two questions on many SSD recipients’ and applicants’ minds surely has been, will I still receive my check? and, What about my appeal?

The answers to those questions are sort of a mixed bag. The SSA has announced that benefits checks will continue to be sent, so people who rely on that income can continue to do so, at least for now. But some SSA workers have been furloughed nationwide. They include government attorneys who handle appeals made by applicants who were rejected for benefits, which tends to be most of them.

The administrative law judges that hear these SSD appeals and decide whether to grant the benefits are still on the job, but without staff such as attorneys, there could be significant delays due to the shutdown. This is on top of the often-lengthy waits that many people on appeal have to endure under normal circumstances.

These complicating factors could it more difficult for people applying for SSD or appealing a rejection. But that does not mean they should wait. Anyone who ability to work is severely limited by a disability is entitled to SSD benefits, and should apply if they need the financial help.

Hopefully, no one getting SSD benefits will feel the pain of the government shutdown before it ends. If circumstances at the SSA change, we will share the news with our readers.

Source: KPCC-FM, “Furloughed attorney waits and worries that Social Security appeals will be delayed,” Brian Watt, Oct. 3, 2013

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Harlan Still & Koch

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