Here in New York, many people are aware of the sometimes glacial pace at which Social Security's disability offices seem to get things done. Although officials have worked to decrease response times for disability benefits applications and appeals, many people still end up waiting months or longer to learn whether they were approved for benefits. Unsurprisingly, the government shutdown will likely not improve things.
One attorney for the Social Security Administration's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review who works at a Los Angeles office was furloughed when the federal government closed its doors last week. While she acknowledged that the furlough would pose financial challenges for her, she said it could also be detrimental to those seeking disability benefits or appealing a denial.
Although the SSA has assured people across the country that offices will be open for hearings, the furloughed attorney says that administrative law judges may have a hard time keeping things moving at a normal pace. The offices' attorneys, she says, write all of the decisions. Without them in the office, people waiting for answers to their appeals or first-time claims should expect longer waits.
While it is not clear if the situation this attorney has described in LA is the same as it is in New York, those who are waiting for a hearing about disability benefits may want to adjust their expectations about how long they will have to wait. Fortunately, those in New York who are currently receiving disability benefits will continue to get payments on time.
Source: 89.3 KPCC, "Furloughed attorney waits and worries that Social Security appeals will be delayed," Brian Watt, Oct. 3, 2013