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Social Security cases in federal court halted due to shutdown

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SPRINGFIELD — Dozens of Central Illinois residents who are fighting for their Social Security benefits are among those affected by the ongoing government shutdown.

In response to the partisan fight in Washington, D.C., federal Judge James Shadid, chief of Illinois’ Central District, put a halt to proceedings on all pending Social Security appeals.

Kenneth Wells, clerk of the Central District, said he believes the directive, issued Oct. 4, affects an estimated three dozen cases in the district stretching from the Quad-Cities to the Indiana border.

While most civil litigation has been curtailed during the shutdown, criminal cases continue to work their way through the system.

Wells said grand juries met in Springfield this week, and criminal trials are still under way.

“We’ve tried to make it known that the court continues to be open,” Wells said. “As far as I’m concerned, our work is continuing.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, however, is already being hit with furloughs. Sharon Paul, the spokeswoman for the office, is not at work. A message on her voicemail blames it on the shutdown.

Beginning next week, more court operations will be curtailed if the impasse continues, Wells said.

Courthouses in Springfield, Peoria, Rock Island and Urbana will continue processing cases and receiving payments connected to various cases, but more employees are likely to be furloughed.

“We would all like this to be resolved,” Wells said.

kurt.erickson@lee.net|(217) 782-4043

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