This is a letter concerning the potential government shutdown from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) to its members:
January 18, 2018
Dear NOSSCR Members,
Since the government is funded through January 19th and Congress has not yet passed an extension to the continuing resolution to keep the government open after that date, we put together some important information you might need in the coming days should the government shut down. This information primarily comes from SSA’s 2017 contingency plan, which is the most recent information available. In the event that new information comes to light, we will let you know as soon as possible. The 2017 contingency plan described below discusses what SSA would do if a government shutdown lasted fewer than five days. In the event of a longer shutdown, it is likely that more staff would be furloughed and there would be a greater impact on SSA services.
Can my clients apply for benefits or appeal their decisions?
Yes, field offices will still be processing applications and appeals.
Will my clients have their ALJ hearings?
Most likely. In the 2017 contingency plan, the Offices of Hearing Operations (OHO) planned to continue scheduling hearings and hearing and deciding cases. Files will be exhibited, and cases will be screened for possible on the record decisions. Decisions will be written.
Will I have access to my client’s efolder?
Current representatives will continue to have access to their clients’ files. However,
SSA will not enroll new appointed representatives for online access.
Will my clients’ Appeals Council cases be decided?
Unlikely. In the 2017 contingency plan OHO planned to discontinue “hearing appeals.” The plan does not describe whether OHO will accept these appeals during a shutdown. NOSSCR members may wish to submit requests for Appeals Council review before any shutdown or use alternate methods of submitting requests for Appeals Council review (such as certified mail to the Appeals Council or delivering requests to field offices) if the Appeals Council fax machine does not work during a shutdown. The contingency plan indicates that field offices will continue to accept all levels of appeals.
What will happen to my clients’ applications for benefits?
The contingency plan indicates that field offices and DDSs will continue to make determinations on initial and reconsideration claims during a shutdown.
Will my clients who are already in pay status continue to receive their SSDI and/or SSI benefits?
The contingency plan says yes.