Does the Government Shutdown Affect My Social Security Disability Claim?

The partial shutdown of the federal government that began on December 22 did not require the furlough of any SSA employees, because Congress and the President already completed the SSA appropriations process for all of Fiscal Year 2019.

However, the Justice Department is one of the agencies affected by the shutdown. Some attorneys are furloughed, and non-essential services have ceased. This affects some Social Security cases in federal courts, though different district and circuit courts are handling the situation differently.

While some courts have announced they are conducting business as usual, NOSSCR has heard from members that courts in Kentucky and Ohio are suspending cases where the United States or a federal agency is a party and where a US Attorney’s office is involved. The Western District of Michigan suspended Social Security cases for 60 days and the Northern District of Illinois issued a 14-day suspension for all cases in which the United States is a party, but the District of New Jersey’s standing order specifically exempts Social Security cases from being stayed. Given these discrepancies and the fact that courts could issue new or different orders at any time, it is important to monitor filings in each federal court case, check courts’ web sites for information, and call court clerks as needed.

If Congress does not provide appropriations by January 11, courts are expected to run out of funding on that day. It is possible that some judges and court staff will be furloughed and additional delays in Social Security cases in court are to be expected.

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