The federal government
shut down today, and many are wondering how this will affect their federal benefits. The
short answer is that for now, most Americans who rely on federal benefit
payments will be unaffected. Spending on programs such as Social Security,
Medicare, and benefits for retired federal employees will continue.
Here are a few more questions and answers about programs that affect many
Would a shutdown put the brakes
on implementing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare?" No. The state-run exchanges for the uninsured
would open as scheduled Tuesday. "The marketplaces will be open on
Tuesday, no matter what, even if there is a government shutdown,"
President Obama said Friday.
Why not? Like Social Security or Medicaid, Obamacare
is a permanent entitlement that isn't subject to annual funding by Congress. "Many of the core parts of the health
care law are funded through mandatory appropriations and wouldn't be affected," Gary Cohen, the Health and Human
Services Department official overseeing the health care rollout, said last week.
Would seniors continue to get Social Security benefits? Yes. Social Security is a mandatory
spending program, and the
people who send those checks would continue to work under a legal doctrine
called "necessary implication."
Can I apply for Social Security benefits, appeal a denial of
benefits, change my address or sign up for direct deposit? Yes.
Can I get a new or replacement Social Security card, benefit
verification statement or earnings record correction? No.
Would the government continue to pay unemployment benefits? Yes. The Employment and Training
Administration "will continue to provide essential functions, as occurred
during the shutdown of 1995," according to the Department of Labor contingency
Will I be able to get food stamps? Yes. The Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP) is funded through the Recovery
Act and from
funds that don't expire for another year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
What will happen to veterans receiving compensation for service-
or combat-related wounds and injuries? The Department of Veterans Affairs said if the shutdown continues
into late October, it will run out of money for compensation and pension checks
to more than 3.6 million veterans who rely on the money to support themselves.
Will deceased veterans still be
able to get a burial benefit? Yes. Burial benefits, headstones and death notices will still be available.
was excerpted from the USA Today article, “66 questions
and answers about the government shutdown.” For a
chart detailing the impact of the shutdown on various offices and functions,
Shutdown: What’s Closed, What’s Open?” at CNN.