Last week, CNN had an interesting story about what would happen to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits should the government happen to shutdown this week over the legislative issues currently bogging down the House and Senate.
It is our hope that a resolution will occur before this piece is published; however, we want to discuss what would happen to your benefits if the government did shut down. If there is a government shut down or one takes place during a future term, you should know that Social Security payments are considered “mandatory”, meaning the payments are automatically authorized no matter what happens legislatively.
One hurdle that could arise during shutdown is that Congress appropriates money each year for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay its employees, meaning things could slow down (processing times) if people are not working. However, as CNN noted, during the last two government shutdowns, which occurred in the 1990s, SSA checks were still sent out on schedule, as SSA offices were sufficiently staffed.
During those shutdowns, the SSA realized that it would need a healthy staff to carry out essential duties, so it required the majority of its workers to continue to work while only furloughing a small portion of employees. “Today most, if not all, Social Security benefits are paid by way of direct deposit or debit card,” CNN reported. “So it’s fair to assume that making those payments is less labor intensive than it used to be when paper checks were mailed out.”
CNN reported that the only thing that could potentially affect SSA payments would be a fight over the debt ceiling, which is likely to be heard by lawmakers in mid-October to mid-November. “The biggest risk to Social Security payments is the debt ceiling,” Charles Konigsberg, who was assistant director of the White House budget office during the last shutdown, told CNN.
If the debt ceiling is not raised, CNN reported that the Treasury Department might run short on funds to pay bills. We will keep you posted if any news comes out about the SSA and a potential government shutdown, and we will follow the debt-ceiling fight when it arises.
You do not have to fear a government shutdown if you receive SSA benefits. If you are eligible for SSDI benefits, we suggest contacting a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free evaluations of your case, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys
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