Social Security payments to continue during government shutdown

Limited services available in field offices during funding lapse

Jan 22, 2018 @ 11:19 am

By Mary Beth Franklin

Social Security payments to retirees, survivors and eligible family members, as well as Supplemental Security Income payments to low-income elderly and disabled recipients, will continue with no change in payment dates during the government shutdown, according to an announcement posted on the Social Security Administration's website.

However, because of the lapse in funding, the agency will provide only limited services at local Social Security field offices.

The government shutdown remained in effect Monday after senators failed to come to an agreement to end the stalemate late Sunday night. A vote is scheduled for noon Monday to end the shutdown with a short-term spending bill that would last three weeks, but it was not clear if it would be successful.

During the shutdown, local Social Security offices can assist members of the public with applying for Social Security benefits, appealing a benefits determination, or changing their address or direct deposit information. The agency can continue to accept reports of a death, verify or change citizenship status, replace a lost or missing Social Security payment or change a representative payee for a minor or disabled beneficiary.

However, local offices will not be able to issue new or replacement Social Security cards, replace a Medicare card, issue a proof-of-income letter, or update or correct earnings records during the shutdown.

But online services will remain available. Beneficiaries can replace a Medicare card or request a proof of income letter by using a personalized my Social Security account.

I logged onto my personal Social Security account to verify it was working during the government shutdown. It is. I was able to download my latest estimated benefits statement and earnings record. Remember, you must now change your password every six months and SSA will send a security code to your cell phone before you can access your information as an additional security precaution.

The agency's contingency plan, which is also posted on the Social Security Administration website, notes that 53,000 employees have been excluded from furloughs to carry out essential services during the government shutdown and that it has sufficient "program integrity funds" available through March 2018.

However, if a partial shutdown lasts longer than five days, the agency said, "we would reevaluate the number of excepted employees performing such functions and possibly increase the number of excepted employees as we did during the previous shutdown." Monday marked the third day of the government shutdown.

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