In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget sent last week, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Carolyn Colvin, detailed how the shutdown would impact SSA’s operations.
According to Colvin, SSA will continue with basic operations such as accepting applications for benefits, processing requests for appeals of unfavorable decisions, and handling normal post-entitlement actions, such as processing change of address and direct deposit. Hearing offices will continue to hear and decide cases.
Many SSA activities will be suspended. These include issuing original and replacement Social Security and Medicare cards, correcting and updating earnings records, and granting Freedom of Information requests. SSA will also suspend continuing disability reviews.
At the hearing level, SSA will suspend the following activities: screening cases for on-the-record decisions; scheduling hearings; drafting relevant notices for claimants; preparing electronic records for claimants and their representatives; identifying missing evidence and developing the hearing record; writing decisions for claims that have already been heard by a judge; and responding to congressional inquiries regarding the status of pending hearings and appeals.
In addition, Colvin stated a substantial number of SSA employees would be placed on furlough for the duration of the shutdown.
One good piece of news is Social Security benefits will continue to be paid to current recipients. Retirement and disability benefits are paid by trust funds financed by payroll deductions. SSI revenues are funded through the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.
Let’s hope Congress does the right thing and keeps the doors open.
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