The recent government shutdown created a lot of questions regarding which parts of our governing body were actually shut down, and which were not. This was particularly true for those who depend on government benefits, such as those who participate in the SSDI Ticket to Work program. Knowing how a government shutdown affects your benefits can help you to prepare and avoid a lot of worry in the future.
The bottom line is that if you participate in the Ticket to Work program or receive SSDI benefits, your benefits won’t be affected. Social Security benefits are meant to be sustained for the long-term. A government shutdown only impairs funds that Congress allocates annually. The Social Security trust fund is not subject to a shutdown.
Still have some questions or concerns? You’re not alone. Understanding the mechanics of a shutdown a bit better can help you put your mind at ease. Here is a general overview of how a government shutdown works, and how it affects Social Security benefits in particular.
Essential Versus Nonessential
A nonessential employee does not mean “not needed” or “unnecessary.” Think of it like when a person from the office goes on vacation — in most positions, they can prepare their fellow workers for their absence. It is not that they are not needed at the company, but other employees can pick up the slack for a bit while they’re away. Essential employees are those employees who work in positions that are absolutely critical for the federal government to fulfill its basic duties.
Social Security funding is one of the programs that is deemed essential, and as such, it will continue to run as normal during a government shutdown. That means you will receive any payments associated with Social Security, including medical and disability payments. They will be cut on time and sent out under their usual process.
The reason for this is that Social Security is partially self-funded. The money that pays benefits, including disability insurance, does not come from general taxes. In addition, as a Title II program, disability is covered by law. Disability benefits must continue running even in the event of a government shutdown. This applies to everyone receiving benefits at the time of the shutdown.
What If I’m in the Middle of the Application Process?
For those who have just recently applied for benefits as a government shutdown goes into effect, you may have to wait a bit longer for your application to be processed. This is because some nonessential employees may have been furloughed in the event of a lengthy government shutdown. Thus, there will be less people available to review your paperwork. While this slowing of the process is unfortunate, if your application is accepted, your benefits will still go into effect as soon as possible.
Thankfully, even when politicians are fighting, Social Security keeps humming along. If you partake in or are interested in becoming a part of the SSDI Ticket to Work program, you can do this even when the government shuts down. Your SSDI benefits will still be fully valid and accepted.