Have you ever wondered how a government shutdown would affect social security? This event would seem to be more prevalent in recent years. For example, it is worth remembering when the U.S. government shut down three times in 2018, but what happens when a government shuts down? Would social security benefits be affected?
There are many doubts that are generated in citizens if the same thing were to happen as in that year, but do not worry. In this article we will discuss how a government shutdown would affect Social Security, what a government shutdown means and what impact it would have on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Income).
What is a government shutdown?
Before learning how a government shutdown would affect social security, it is worth mentioning what a government shutdown is and what it is caused by. Well, a government shutdown occurs when the federal government does not have the money necessary to continue paying its employees. This directly affects the spending bills passed by Congress, which fund government agencies.
If a budget bill is passed, the government receives funds to continue operating for a few years. However, there are times when a temporary funding bill is passed, but this only keeps the government open for a couple of weeks.
Then, if a current budget bill expires, the federal government is no longer authorized to use the money to pay workers. If this happens, many federal agencies will run out of revenue, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The government shutdown can last two days, or several months, and can be a total shutdown, or a partial shutdown, depending on the situation. Once a new budget bill is passed, which provides revenue to the state, the shutdown will come to an end and everything would return to normal.
How a government shutdown would affect Social Security?
As the SSA is a federal and essential agency, the services they provide, such as Social Security and Medicare, will not be shut down, but their revenues will be limited, so staffing and even service will be reduced.
If we take as an example agencies that provide non-essential services, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, or the national parks, they will automatically cease to function, while, as we said earlier, essential services will continue to stand, although not with the same strength.
That is, Social Security payments, such as retirement benefits, or SSI and SSDI, will remain a fact of life, although, probably, they will no longer accept applications and hearings for new beneficiaries.
What if I am scheduled for a hearing after the government shutdown?
If a citizen is scheduled for a date with an administrative law judge, this hearing will likely take place as agreed. However, a government shutdown could lead to these professionals being placed on leave.
This means that the offices will be understaffed, and only the claimant, judge, security personnel, vocational expert, and staff deemed essential would be present.
If the hearing is held, and the applicant is approved for benefits, it is very likely that, with the government shutdown, payments will be delayed until the situation normalizes. As mentioned, the length of time the government is shut down depends on several factors, so there is no way to know how long it will last.
Also, if you requested a hearing to become a Social Security beneficiary, you should keep in mind that it depends on the state in which you reside, as each state has its own rules beyond the federal government.
How a government shutdown would affect social security benefits?
As mentioned above, payments for these essential services, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), would not be affected at all if the government were to shut down, although these services would be limited.
The bottom line is that a shutdown may affect SSI and SSDI, but payments will continue to be made, but will most likely be delayed. If you have an application pending, it may be delayed until the situation normalizes and the government is back in business.
Why is my Social Security application delayed?
In addition to the mentioned above, about how a government shutdown would affect Social Security, it will take longer not only because the applications are delayed, but also because these proceedings are reviewed by the field offices of each state, where decisions are made about the continuation of these benefits.
In the event that you request your hearing, but your request for benefits is denied, you may not be able to request a new hearing until after the government reopens.
SUMMARY: If you have a hearing scheduled during the government shutdown, it will be held, albeit with delays. If you want to request a hearing, but the government has shut down, you will not be able to do so until after the government shutdown ends.
What happens to Social Security Checks if the government shuts down?
We already know that the services provided by Social Security will not be affected as much as other non-essential services, and, since Social Security payments are not funded by the government, they are paid by the Social Security Trust Fund.
So, if you have already been approved for Social Security benefits, checks will still be paid to claimants.
When will my check be deposited?
The SSA knows that these checks are vitally important to the livelihood of thousands of beneficiaries, so the agency will do whatever it takes to ensure that these payments can be made in a timely manner.
Nowadays, it is much easier to deliver these checks, since they are not sent by mail, but by direct transfers and debit cards.
After clarifying how a government shutdown would affect social security, and that you will continue to receive your payments even if the government shuts down, the SSA implements a contingency plan before the shutdown takes place, in order to ensure payments to beneficiaries.