Understanding How a Government Shutdown Impacts SSDI
When considering a government shutdown, SSDI recipients might understandably be extremely worried.
How will it affect your benefits? What about your application? And could you lose valuable and needed income as a result?
What Causes a Government Shutdown
Government shutdowns come up in the news often. In fact, in recent decades the discussion has become so common that people often ignore it. But a shutdown can seriously impact our everyday lives – including the SSDI process.
In general, we reach a shutdown risk when Congress fails to pass a working federal budget. Essentially, the government can’t decide on how or whether to fund itself. Usually one party wants certain cuts and the other doesn’t, and/or the other side wants to spend money on specific things the other side opposes.
If Congress doesn’t officially pass an agreement to fund the government, all non-essential government work has to stop, or “shut down.” This includes everything from arts programs to cancer research, from food assistance programs and small business support to local construction projects.
Under a government shutdown, people often deal with longer wait times and less support from major government agencies. A lot of people lose money and aid, often in surprising ways. As a result, shutdowns can be destabilizing and politically unpopular. So there’s a lot of pressure on politicians to reach an agreement.
A Government Shutdown: SSDI Consequences
Fortunately, SSDI works a bit differently than other social programs.
SSDI is usually considered an essential service. This means SSA workers still come to work, applications still go through, and benefits still go out.
In addition, SSDI functions like an insurance policy. Workers pay into it through their taxes every pay period. So even without government funding, the program has money to pay.
As a result, a government shutdown shouldn’t affect payments or applications. Most importantly, people who depend on SSDI for much-needed income can expect the benefits to continue.
SSDI Delays Due to Government Shutdown
However, because of a government shutdown, the SSA may have a lot of delays. A variety of reasons might cause this:
- Fewer non-essential workers to answer calls or questions
- Slower website functioning due to lack of non-essential IT staff
- A rise in calls and thus wait times as people have questions or concerns about their SSDI status
- And more.
Often in a shutdown situation, no one knows exactly how the wait times might be impacted until it happens.
Bear in mind these delays may occur on top of the normal wait times for SSDI. Disability has astronomical wait times at the moment. You should expect any SSDI application to take months if not years – especially without the help of an attorney.
Help If You Need SSDI
With an SSDI attorney, you can avoid some of the most common mistakes that lead to SSDI delays and denials.
Remember, the SSA denies the majority of SSDI claims (with or without a shutdown). A good SSDI attorney will help you prepare a strong application or appeal.
If the SSDI denies your initial claim, you have 60 days to appeal – during which time you absolutely need to get an attorney. SSDI claims have a much higher rate of success with a lawyer, who can help you fix all the errors in your application and represent you in court.
What’s more, an SSDI lawyer only gets paid if they win your case, and even that’s just a fraction of your past-due benefits. You keep every dollar moving forward.