FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Looking for information about what government services will be available during a partial government shutdown? Please see some frequently asked questions and answers below.
Military and National Security
Would active-duty military be furloughed?
No. All active-duty military are essential will continue to report for duty and carry out assigned duties.
Would active-duty military be paid during a shutdown?
Yes. The President signed H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, which ensures that our military personnel on active duty, including reserve component personnel on Federal active duty continue to be paid through a potential shutdown.
How would services and benefits for military families be impacted?
According to guidance issued by the Department of Defense, the activities that would continue are: Inpatient care in DOD hospitals and acute and emergency outpatient care in DOD hospitals and treatment facilities, but not things like elective surgeries or other procedures; Department of Defense schools, to the extent required by law; legal assistance for deploying and deployed service members; morale, welfare and recreation activities supporting exempt activities such as operation of mess halls, physical training, and child care activities required for readiness; and any activity funded solely through non-appropriated funds.
Will disaster response be affected?
No. Disaster assistance would likely not be affected because the Disaster Relief Fund which funds disaster operations is categorized as “no year money.” Some grants could be impacted as grantees will not be able to draw down funds for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER), Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG), or Fire Prevention and Safety grants because these rely on manual processes that will not be staffed during a lapse in appropriations.
Medicare, Medicaid and Other Health Services
How will Medicare services be affected?
Medicare receives mandatory, nondiscretionary funding which is unaffected by a lapse in appropriations and therefore will continue largely without disruption. This is due primarily to the fact that funds to pay Medicare claims are not dependent on appropriations, but are transferred from the Medicare trust funds. Medicare Parts A/B (doctors and hospitals) fee-for-service claims are processed by independent Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs). MACs also are paid with Medicare trust funds. Additionally, Medicare has up to 30 days to process clean claims, so claims that are paid today were incurred up to 30 days before.
I am on Medicaid—how will my coverage be affected?
States received funding for Medicaid on October 1, due to the advanced appropriation enacted in the FY 2013 appropriations legislation. Because Medicaid allotments are paid to states in advance on a quarterly basis, it is likely states will not see an immediate impact from a temporary government shutdown and consequently, nor will providers who serve the Medicaid and SCHIP populations.
How will the Children’s Health Insurance Program be impacted?
States received funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on October 1, due to the advanced appropriation enacted in the FY 2013 appropriations legislation.
Will Indian Health Service (IHS) be affected?
IHS would continue to provide direct clinical health care services at all IHS locations, as well as referrals for contracted services that cannot be provided through IHS clinics. While some preventive health services would continue to be provided (e.g., well child exams or prenatal visits), the predominant care provided would be treatment services for acute conditions or monitoring of chronic diseases for complications.
Will seniors continue to get Social Security benefits?
Yes. Social Security beneficiaries would continue to receive their benefits. Social Security checks will continue to go out and disability benefits will also continue to be paid.
Can I apply for Social Security benefits, appeal a denial of benefits, change my address or sign up for direct deposit?
Yes. All Social Security offices will remain open for their usual business hours. Applications and requests for appeals will be processed. Hearings will be held, though services in hearing offices will be limited. State Disability Determination Services (DDS) will be asked to remain open; however since these 100 percent federally-funded agencies are staffed by State employees, each State will make its own decision whether to maintain limited operations. DDSs decide initial disability claims and make reconsideration decisions.
Can I get a new or replacement Social Security card, benefit verification statement or earnings record correction?
No—these services will be temporarily unavailable during a lapse in appropriations.
Source: Social Security Administration
Would the IRS continue to collect taxes?
Will my refund be delayed?
Possibly, especially if you file a paper return.
Will taxpayer assistance resources be available?
Walk-in assistance centers and telephone hotlines would be closed.
How will a shutdown affect IRS audits?
The IRS will suspend all audit activities for the duration of a government shutdown.
Source: U.S. Treasury
How will air travel be affected?
Flight operations are expected to continue as normal. Air traffic controllers will remain on the job, Transportation Security Administration officers will continue to screen passengers at airports, and airport and airplane safety inspections will continue. Customs and border protection officers will also continue their work.
Will Amtrak remain operational?
Yes. Amtrak will continue normal operation of its national intercity and high-speed passenger rail network.
Will I be able to get a passport or a visa?
Yes. The State Department will continue processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports for the time being. Additionally, embassies and consulates overseas will continue to provide services to American citizens.
Unemployment Benefits, Food Stamps, and Other Assistance
Would the government continue to pay unemployment benefits?
Yes. The Employment and Training Administration will continue to provide essential functions. State and Federal extended benefits are mandatory spending and will not be affected during a shutdown.
What would happen with disability benefits (SSDI)?
According to the Committee on Ways and Means, disability benefits will also continue to be paid. State Disability Determination Services (DDS) will be asked to remain open; however since these 100 percent federally-funded agencies are staffed by State employees, each State will make its own decision whether to maintain limited operations. DDSs decide initial disability claims and make reconsideration decisions.
Will I be able to get food stamps?
Yes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits. The authority to make October benefit payments comes from the Recovery Act, through which Congress provided ‘such sums as are necessary’ to finance the SNAP benefit provided for in the Recovery Act. In addition, about $2 billion in contingency funding will be available and could be used to support State Administrative activities essential to continue the program and issue and process benefits. These contingency funds were provided in the FY 2013 appropriation and do not expire until the end of FY 2014.
Will the federal school lunch program continue?
Schools are reimbursed for these costs on a monthly basis and are allowed to carry over funds from the previous fiscal year. The USDA expects most schools will be able to continue providing meals through October.
Will veterans continue to receive health services through VA medical facilities?
Yes. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, all VA medical facilities and clinics would remain fully operational, including, inpatient care, outpatient care, prescriptions, surgeries, dental treatment, extended care, mental health care, nursing home care, special health care services for women veterans and vet centers.
How will veterans receiving compensation for service- or combat-related wounds and injuries be affected?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has said that claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October.
How would a shut down affect survivor benefits?
Survivor benefits are similar to disability/pension benefits paid to veterans. Thus, according the VA’s assessment, survivors currently in receipt of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or Survivors’ Pension will continue to receive those payments until funding runs out in late October.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event
of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is attempting to confirm this with the Administration.
Will I be able to get a VA mortgage?
Yes. Loans are funded through user fees and are expected to continue. Additionally, insurance processing, home loan processing and readjustment counseling services will continue.
Will deceased veterans still be able to get a burial benefit?
Yes. Burial benefits, headstones and death notices will still be available.
Will I still get my mail?
Yes. The U.S. Postal Service functions independently and will be unaffected by a lapse in appropriations.
Will national parks be open to visitors?
No-- parks will be closed to public use. The National Park Service does not expect to close access to open-entrance park land, but everywhere they can lock a gate, close a road, and shutoff amenities, it will be done.
Will food safety inspections continue?
Yes. The Food Safety and Inspection Service will continue all safety-related activities. The Food and Drug Administration will limit its activities, but will continue to monitor recalls and conduct investigations.