Will the government shutdown affect Social Security checks?
While Social Security checks are expected to continue during a shutdown, other SSA functions could be disrupted.
With the House of Representatives poised to allow the government to shut down by Sunday, many Social Security recipients are worried about the fate of their benefits. In the US, one out of five seniors depend on Social Security for ninety percent or more of their income.
Payments will continue
However, government shutdowns have happened in the US before, and it takes a lot more than Congressional failure to stop the sending of Social Secuirty checks. These benefits are protected because their funding does not form part of the same budget process Congress is currently debating.
How will a shutdown impact the Social Security Adminstration?
When the risk of a government shutdown approaches, the White House asks federal agencies to provide a contingency plan. The Social Secuirty Administration’s (SSA) was provided by Chad Poist, who serves as the SSA Deputy Commissioner for Budget, Finance, and Management.
“Our continuing functions related to making accurate payments during a lapse in appropriations is consistent with our previous contingency plan,” wrote Poist, confirming that benefits will continue to be paid in the case of a shutdown. Mr. Poist also cited legal precedents set during previous shutdowns wherein the SSA was mandated to continue making Social Security payments.
Services that are halted
This does not mean that beneficiaries will not encounter difficulties when faced with issues relating to their benefits.
Mr. Poist’s plan did outline several activities that would be stopped during a shutdown, including the processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, overpayment processing, and the replacement of Medicare cards, among other activities typically carried out.
These responsibilities must be cut because around 8,500 SSA workers will be furloughed. In other words, these government employees will be sent home without pay until Congress passes a funding bill.