Congress finally came to an agreement and on the evening of October 16, voted to end the 16-day shutdown of the federal government.
The news was dominated for two weeks by stories about the shutdown and its immediate impact. National parks were closed. Trash collection stopped in Washington DC. Even the panda-cam at the National Zoo was shut down. The effects were far-reaching — from government workers, to contractors, to vendors and shop owners near federal buildings — people felt it.
But what about the longer term impact of the shutdown?
One area where there will surely be a long-term impact is on Social Security benefits payments.
Anyone who was already receiving benefits (Social Security or Disability Income) still got their checks despite the shutdown. And, anyone for whom a hearing was already scheduled got to have their day in court as planned. But, as discussed in a prior post, no new hearings were scheduled, no cases reviewed nor claims prepared.
So while the immediate impact for those already “in the system” was minimal, the long-term impact on the system as a whole has yet to be felt.
Virginia social security disability lawyer Doug Landau predicts we will see a dip in benefits payments in six to twelve months, reflecting the two weeks+ during which no new cases were processed. Additionally, we can expect delays in scheduling hearings, processing claims, etc. as workers at the Social Security Administration (SSA) work through a backlog of cases that piled up while they were furloughed.