From a February 17, 2011 e-mail sent out by head of the union that represents most Social Security Administration (SSA) employees to union members:
I have heard that SSA is having a high level management conference call today regarding the Agency’s furlough preparations. ... In some past furloughs the Agency has closed all field offices. In other furloughs SSA has declared maintenance of benefit rolls as essential and kept skeleton staffs at work but such staff was instructed to take no new claims. In the 1995-96 furlough the Agency closed all field offices for the first 5 day furlough. They kept all field offices open during the 2nd 20 day furlough and declared field employees essential. Employees were called back from X-mas leave and forced to work without pay. When the furlough ended, Congress reimbursed all employees whether they worked or not.From an April 6, 2011 e-mail from then Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue to Social Security employees:
As soon as funding lapses, Federal agencies will not be permitted to incur further financial obligations performing activities funded by annual appropriations, except those related to the orderly suspension of operations or performance of excepted activities. This means that some employees will be furloughed and unable to work. Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes determining which agency functions are excepted from a furlough. We plan to continue services associated with the White House's statement that Social Security checks will continue to go out. Our field and hearing offices, teleservice and program service centers, and State disability determination services will provide limited services if there is a shutdown. Should it become necessary to implement our contingency plans, you will receive details from your supervisor no later than Friday, April 8th regarding your furlough status.