The term “government shutdown” seems to appear more and more in news headlines in recent years. In fact, the US government shut down three times in 2018. But what does it mean when the government shuts down? Which government agencies are affected and will your income be affected if you depend on Social Security payments or disability benefits? That answer depends on a few different factors that will be explained in this article. Read on to learn more about what an arrest means and how it could affect you and your Social Security benefits.
What is a government shutdown?
In short, a government shutdown occurs when the federal government does not have enough money to continue operating and paying federal employees. Government agencies are funded through spending accounts approved by Congress. Most budget bills passed by Congress include enough funds to run the government for a couple of years. However, in some cases, temporary funding bills are passed to keep government open for only a few weeks.
When the current budget law expires, the federal government will not be able to spend the money to continue paying its employees. Thus, federal agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and others essentially run out of money to operate. Non-essential services typically close immediately, while essential services like Medicare and Social Security try to operate with reduced staff or limited service.
Fortunately, Social Security is considered an essential service and is generally not affected by a shutdown like other agencies. For example, national parks, the Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development and others must generally cease operations altogether. However, social security payments such as SSI, SSDI, and retirement benefits are still paid during a closing. Even if payments are still being submitted, new applications and hearings may not be processed.
A government shutdown can last anywhere from a day or two to months. This can be a partial government shutdown or a full shutdown. There is no set time period for an arrest to end. It will last until Congress passes a new budget bill that provides funds for the agencies that have closed. In most cases, a closure lasts no more than a couple of weeks, although some have lasted longer.
Are Social Security checks affected by an arrest?
Social Security checks are generally not affected by an arrest. Social Security payments do not require funding from Congress. These payments come directly from the Social Security Trust Fund, so the only funding required is for the employees who handle these payments.
If you have already applied and been approved for benefits, you should continue to receive your payments as normal. Even during the 1995 shutdown, Social Security checks continued to be sent to recipients on time. The SSA realizes that people depend on this income to survive, so they will go to great lengths to make sure payments are made normally.
Today, it’s even easier for people to get their checks. Because physical checks are no longer mailed, fewer people are needed to manage direct deposits and debit card payments. These payments have not been affected by the closures of recent years. In some cases, SSA employees may even work without pay to ensure payments continue on time. As closing approaches, SSA typically implements a contingency plan to ensure those payments continue to occur.
While existing payments usually go out on time, there are a few ways a closure affects SSI and SSDI. If you have a pending question or are preparing to claim benefits, you may be interested. Read on to learn.
What does the government shutdown mean for SSI and SSDI?
As noted above, existing Social Security supplemental income payments, Social Security disability benefits, and pension benefit payments are generally not affected by the government shutdown. Also, if you have already scheduled a hearing with an administrative law judge, the hearing will likely go ahead as planned. However, support staff are often on leave, which means your hearings department will be understaffed. The hearings will be limited to the plaintiff, judge, professional expert, security personnel and very essential personnel.
Since support staff may not be on duty, the final decision on your hearing may not be written until after closing time. So if you are approved for benefits, the start of your payments will likely be delayed until support staff return.
If you are receiving information to claim benefits , you can expect your application to be delayed. The length of the delay depends on the state in which you live. As applications are initially reviewed and local field offices make the initial disability determination, states generally decide whether to continue these operations. They will often work with the SSA based on the number of employees the SSA chooses to keep on the job during the arrest.
In most cases, new requests are still being processed, but at a slower rate. Therefore, you can expect at least a delay in the processing of your new application. If you receive a denial of benefits, you may not be able to schedule a reconsideration hearing until the closing is over. While existing hearings may continue, no new hearings are usually scheduled during that time.
Are Social Security offices open during a government shutdown?
In most cases, local social security offices will close or have very limited staff during a lockdown. In many cases, local offices are already closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic until further notice. The coronavirus has already moved many services from traditional in-person treatment to online services.
It’s a good idea to go ahead and sign up for a My Social Security account on the SSA.gov website. This will give you access to many services and benefits, and will also prevent someone else from using your Social Security number to commit identity theft and enroll in benefits using your information. Signing up for an account is simple and allows you to apply for benefits, get a replacement social security card, and many other helpful services.
If you can’t use the online system to complete your application, call Social Security’s phone number at 800-772-1213 for help. Always call before going to your local office, as they may be closed or only work limited appointments.
If you receive Social Security benefits, you can be sure those payments will continue even during a government shutdown. However, if you are going through the application process, you should expect processing delays. Limited staff and office closures will result in longer wait times for the application to be processed. You should try to fill out as many as possible online and always call their office before visiting in person. While most arrests are over within a week or two, there is no way of knowing exactly when the arrest will end. As soon as Congress approves a new expense account, operations will resume as normal. Just know that it will probably take some time to clear the backlog created by the arrest.