What Does the Government Shutdown Mean for SSI, SSDI?

The good news up front: Individuals receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income as well as those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance will continue to receive benefits with no change in payment dates. 


For many Americans, the government shutdown has been an inconvenience and a source of frustration. For many federal employees, it’s been an unexpected — and probably unwanted — vacation that’s threatening their ability to put food on the table.

For individuals and families receiving SSI or SSDI, it’s been a source of confusion and anxiety. Millions of people aren’t sure how their benefits will be affected.

For Those Already Receiving Benefits

Individuals already receiving benefits can breathe a sigh of relief. Benefits will be sent without interruption. According to the Social Security Administration’s site outlining the effects of the shutdown, the agency will only provide the following services at Social Security field offices:

  • Help you apply for benefits
  • Assist you in requesting an appeal
  • Change your address or direct deposit information
  • Accept reports of death
  • Verify or change your citizenship status
  • Replace a lost or missing Social Security payment
  • Issue a critical payment
  • Change a representative payee
  • Process a change in your living arrangement or income (SSI recipients only)

Services that are unavailable during the shutdown include:

  • Issue new or replacement Social Security cards
  • Replace your Medicare card
  • Issue a proof of income letter

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For Those in the Application Process

The news is largely good for those in the process of applying for benefits, too. The agency will still handle applications and appeals at the reconsideration and hearing levels.

Most other work under the Offices of Disability and Adjudicative Review will be suspended.

Concern Over Long Term Sustainability

While the Social Security Administration is designed to be able to weather the storm that is the 2013 government shutdown, some lawmakers are less optimistic about what state the agency will be in a few years from now.

During a recent appearance on 60 Minutes, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., alleged that almost half of SSDI recipients either should not have qualified for benefits or had “highly questionable” applications.

CBS has even created a landing page for its SSDI coverage called Disability, USA.

The lawmaker and a CBS investigative team noted the programs $135 billion budget to serve 12 million people — up 20% in the last six years. The program is expected to run out of funding in the next two to three years.

Then, a 60 Minutes producer said, lawmakers and their constituents will face a tough decision: “When the trust fund runs out, the truly disabled will either see their benefits cut or every working American will have to pay more in taxes.”

Talk To The Experts

If you, or someone you love, is dealing with an injury or illness that doctors expect to limit your ability to work for at least one year, Social Security Disability benefits may be an invaluable resource to manage looming financial difficulties. Contact our law offices today for a free consultation about your situation. The process is risk free — if we don’t win benefits, you won’t owe us for our services.

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