Last night Congress agreed to fund the government through December 22, 2017 and just hours ago the President signed that bill. One of Congress’ constitutional obligations is to approve government funding. The federal government’s fiscal year runs through October 1st to September 30th. Because Congress cannot agree on spending priorities, particular the defense department, immigration and healthcare, annual funding has been delayed. With the approaching holidays and more work to be done, another possible shutdown, days before Christmas, is a possibility. According to Reuters, “the White House and lawmakers say the bill will give them more time to negotiate several end-of-year agenda items, including the budget, a children’s health program and hurricane aid.”
For those of you who rely on SSDI or SSI monthly disability benefits, these will not be affected by a government shutdown. However, for those of you who have pending claims before the Social Security Administration, there may be a slowdown in services. It is hard to imagine that it could be any slower, but apparently that is possible. If the shutdown lasts between 1-5 days, essential SSA employees will continue to work. Ninety-seven percent of hearing office employees will report for work. However, if the shutdown lasts for more than five days, SSA will “re-evaluate its contingency plan.” We do expect that scheduled hearings will continue. However, a shutdown that lasts beyond five days will furlough more employees and create more backlog in workloads.