The federal government shutdown that began at midnight on December 22 is only a partial one, but it will directly and indirectly affect many of the services the government provides. The good news is that Pennsylvania state workers’ compensation claims will not generally be affected.  Those whose Federal workers’ compensation claims are approved will continue to receive their benefits, but those whose applications need to be processed will likely have a long wait.

It should be noted that there were two shutdowns previously in 2018, but these were brief and did not impact services in a meaningful way. The last major federal shutdown was for two weeks in 2013.

What happens to those who applied?

Since many non-essential government workers are furloughed, applications for Social Security benefits will likely not be processed (and Social Security cards will not be issued at this time). As with any disruption to production, the shutdown will also likely mean that there will be a larger than usual backlog of applications when the shutdown is over. The longer the shutdown, the larger the backlog.

Medicaid and Medicare Regional Offices Closed

Also furloughed were the offices responsible for issuing Workers’ Compensation Set-Asides (WCMSAs) to pay for future medical services. According to an article, the set-asides letters of approval will not likely be issued during the shutdown. If a letter is expected does not arrive by early January, it could be a much longer wait.

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Workers’ compensation is complicated when the government is functioning normally; it only gets more complex when it is not. With this in mind, it is wise to reach out to attorneys who have experience with workers’ compensation and other workplace injury issues here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. In the coming days, they are a real resource for providing up-to-date and knowledgeable information on these issues.