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Disability and Federal Government Shutdown FAQ

December 22, 2018

Congress passed a spending bill on Thursday, Dec. 7, staving off a federal government shutdown for another few weeks. The new deadline is tonight, Friday, Dec. 22. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress must pass a bill to fund the government sometime today. NPR commentators speculated that Congress may once again decide to fund the government for only a few weeks, “kicking the can down the road” once again.

But Congress doesn’t always pass a bill to fund the government in time. Sometimes the government does shut down, as it did three times in the 1980s, twice in the 1990s, and again in 2013. Where does that leave recipients of SSI and SSDI, and applicants for benefits? The Social Security Administration has a contingency plan that outlines what activities will still happen and what won’t happen in the event of a government shutdown.

Q: I’m receiving SSI or SSDI benefits. Will I still get my checks if the government shuts down?
A: Yes, benefits will still be paid in the event of a government shutdown.

Q: My application for disability benefits is in process. If the government shuts down, what happens to my application?
A: SSA field offices will continue to process applications during a government shutdown.

Q: I have a hearing scheduled, or I’m waiting for a hearing. Will a government shutdown delay my hearing?
A: It should not. SSA will continue to schedule hearings, hold hearings, and write decisions during a shutdown. However, SSA may not be accepting hearing appeals or docketing new hearing applications during a shutdown.

Q: I have a special circumstance (for example, a terminal illness, a compassionate allowance, a situation that qualifies for a quick disability determination, a dire need, or a wounded warrior) and I need to file a disability claim now. Is a government shutdown going to keep me from doing that?
A: No, SSA will still be processing those claims during a government shutdown.

Q: I lost my Social Security card and need a replacement. Can I get one while the government is shut down?
A: No. SSA will not be processing replacement Social Security cards during a government shutdown.

Q: I am receiving disability benefits, and I need to change my address. Can I do that during a government shutdown?
A: Yes. Processing changes of address for people already receiving benefits is a “normal post-entitlement action” that SSA will continue to do during a shutdown.

Q: Will SSA be processing Freedom of Information Act requests during a government shutdown?
A: No, FOIA requests will not be processed during a shutdown.