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Would government shutdown affect Social Security disability?

As many people in Wisconsin are aware, earlier in March the federal government announced budget cuts across the board. This has been called the "sequester," and it has hit a number of areas of government--from education to agriculture to the criminal justice system.

Many people who receive Social Security disability benefits or veteran's disability benefits may be wondering whether these will be affected. There is a lot of misinformation regarding this out there, and it is important to clear that up.

If the Obama administration and Congress cannot come to an agreement on the nation's budget by March 27, funding may expire and a government shutdown could occur. This does not, however, mean that the entire government will close, although many facilities and services would be unavailable.

Since 1977, there have been at least 15 government shutdowns and during those Social Security benefit payments did not cease. Social Security disability and retirement benefits are paid out of a trust fund, and as such they do not depend on the congressional spending bill.

If the government does shut down, Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income and veteran's disability benefits should all continue to be paid as per usual. However, some Social Security offices may close which could lead to an even bigger backlog of disability claims.

It is important that disability benefits do not come to a halt because these are a vital lifeline for many people here in Milwaukee. The Social Security benefits system is very complicated, and it may become even more difficult for people to find information about their claims if offices close as a part of the sequester. Those who have difficulties obtaining Social Security disability benefits at any time may be wise to seek legal counsel.

Source: AARP, "What the 'Sequester' Could Mean for You," Kim Keister, March 1, 2013

Source: Huffington Post, "Momentum building to Cancel the Sequester," March 20, 2013

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