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Post-shutdown fallout should be expected says SSA attorney

The government is back open for business. It took 16 days for Congressional leaders to come up with a plan to end the federal shutdown and avoid financial default. In the wake of the stall, the issue many seem concerned about is how long it will take for various services to be restored to full function.

In regard to the Social Security Administration, the effects reportedly may be mixed. In the midst of the shutdown, some had expressed worry that much-needed Social Security retirement benefits might be cut off if the debt ceiling wasn't raised. That issue now seems moot. But there are still questions on the Social Security disability benefits front.

One word of warning comes from an SSA attorney serving in Southern California. Elisa Wayne was furloughed along with a lot of her other colleagues at the start of the shutdown. While many of the SSA offices shut down, the judges in the Disability Adjudication and Review office in Los Angeles kept operating. Not surprisingly, the stack of disability benefit appeals began to mount and Wayne got called back after just eight days.

That means that there are still about eight days of work backed up in the hopper, and Wayne says her colleagues not only face that backlog, but that it likely will wind up costing the government more money to clear the jam. The biggest concern from the perspective of many legal experts is that the already-slow system of claim processing will be slowed even further.

Wayne is not shy about sharing her frustration over how the situation has played out. She says Congressional pressure to reduce the backlog had her overloaded with work to begin with. She estimates the eight days of inaction due to the shutdown has just made her job exponentially worse.

Source: SCPR.org, "Shutdown fallout: Southern Californians face backlogs, extra costs," Brian Watt, Oct. 16, 2013 

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