Today the federal government has shutdown because a majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives refuse to fund federal government operations unless the implementation of Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is delayed for one year.

The Shutdown will NOT affect disabled Americans who are currently receiving disability benefits. Disability payments will continue. I see no cause for worry.

However, the Shutdown is going to have a major impact on disabled Americans who are seeking disability benefits and have not yet been approved. Before the Shutdown, my clients experienced the following time periods in their disability case:

  • The Application: 4 – 6 months.
  • The 1st Appeal – Request for Reconsideration: 2 – 6 months.
  • The 2nd Appeal – Request for Hearing: 12 – 24 months.
  • Receiving the Judge’s Decision: 1 – 4 months.
  • Receiving the disability benefits: 1 – 4 months.

For the majority of my clients it takes 2 ½ to 3 years to receive disability benefits after they apply.

With the Shutdown, the disability appeal process will effectively be stopped. Disability hearings are handled by the Office of Disability and Adjudicative Review (ODAR). Due to the Shutdown, the following ODAR activities have been discontinued:

  • Screening cases for on-the-record decisions.
  • Scheduling hearings.
  • Docketing and tracking new cases.
  • Drafting notices for claimants.
  • Preparing electronic records.
  • Developing the record in the case.
  • Exhibiting case files for Judges.
  • Writing decisions.

My clients are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. They will all be hurt equally by the Shutdown.