How would a government shutdown affect my Social Security disability benefits/claim?

How would a government shutdown affect my Social Security disability benefits/claim?

The answer is, unfortunately, it depends.

If you are currently receiving SSA disability, survivors or retirement payment, the shutdown will not affect you.

If you are looking to file a new claim for disability, you will still be able to apply for benefits but there may be an increased delay in you receiving a decision.

If you currently have a disability claim pending with Social Security and are not yet receiving benefits then you may be impacted by a government shutdown.  If you have a claim pending at the Initial Application or Request for Reconsideration level, it is being evaluated by Disability Determination Services (DDS) – which is a state, rather than a federal agency.  As a result, Social Security cannot guarantee or predict whether these DDS agencies will continue to operate in the event of a shutdown.  Each state will determine whether it can maintain DDS operations.

If you have a disability claim pending at the Request for Hearing level then whether a shutdown will impact you will depend on whether you already have a scheduled hearing date.  Offices of Disability and Adjudicative Review (ODAR) will continue to hear and decide cases, but will stop scheduling hearings.  This means the waiting time for a hearing will be lengthened.

Below is a list of the various offices and agencies involved in processing Social Security disability claims and their continued and discontinued activities in the event of a shutdown as proposed in the Social Security Administration’s 2013 Contingency Plan, which can be found at

This posting is not intended as legal advice, as this is an ongoing and constantly changing situation.  For more specific answers regarding your situation, please contact an attorney and/or the relevant government agency.

District Office

Will continue to provide: Application for benefits; Request for appeals (reconsiderations, hearings, Appeals Council); Normal post-entitlement actions (change of address, Supplemental Security Income living arrangement changes, non-citizen verification/changes, direct deposit, death inputs, etc.); Non-receipts and critical payments; Payee changes.

Will not provide: Original and replacement Social Security cards;  Benefit verifications;  Earnings record corrections and updates; Payee accountings; Completing program integrity workloads (redeterminations, continuing disability reviews (CDRs), overpayments); Prisoner activities; Requests from third parties for queries; Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; IT enhancement activities, public relations, and training; Replacement Medicare cards.

State Disability Determination Services (DDS)

Will continue to provide: Processing Initial claims, including terminally ill, compassionate allowances, quick disability determinations, dire need, and wounded warriors; Process Reconsideration appeals; Perform critical IT support for daily processing.

Will not provide: Continuing Disability Review (CDRs); Assistance requests for hearings; End-of-line quality assurance reviews, IT enhancements activities, public relations, and training.

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)

Will continue to provide: Hearing of cases already scheduled; Deciding cases.

Will not provide: Screening cases for On-the-Record decisions; Scheduling hearings; Hearings appeals; Docketing and tracking new cases; Drafting relevant notices for claimants; Preparing electronic records for claimants and representatives;  Identifying missing evidence and developing the record; Exhibiting case files for Administrative Law Judges; Quality assurance review activities; Decision-writing; Processing bias complaints from claimants and representatives;  Responding to congressional inquiries regarding support for casework on constituent hearings and appeals; Conducting all activities dependent on Operations support, including enrollment of appointed representatives for eFolder access; Responding to FOIA requests and public inquiries.