How Social Security and Medicare might be affected by a federal government shutdown

  • To avoid a government shutdown, lawmakers must adopt a spending bill by an impending deadline.
  • Here is how, in the event of a shutdown, Social Security and Medicare programs might be impacted.
  • Before an Oct. 1 deadline, Washington state lawmakers are rushing to adopt a funding bill.

A federal government shutdown will occur if they are unable to reach an agreement.

The good news is that because Social Security and Medicare are regarded as required spending, they will largely be unaffected for pensioners who rely on them.

The payment of Social Security benefits will continue, according to Bill Sweeney, senior vice president of government affairs at AARP. The individuals tasked with processing those checks will continue to report for duty.
Medicare beneficiaries should also anticipate continued service.

According to Maria Freese, senior legislative representative of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, “the majority of seniors should be fine, both on the Medicare side and on the Social Security side.”

But Freese asserts that the likelihood that these program beneficiaries may be impacted by a closure increases with the length of the outage.

The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that since 1980, there have been 14 federal government shutdowns. Employees who are not exempt from the shutdown are furloughed when that occurs, which usually results in a halt to all federal departments, agencies, and programs.

According to Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, if a shutdown does place this time, it might only last a short while.

Time is simply running out, so we might have a brief shutdown, Hoagland added.

Freese said that while a brief government shutdown probably won’t have an effect, if it lasts for around 30 days, beneficiaries might start to feel the repercussions.

The disability program will likely be the area of Social Security that is most affected, according to Freese.

Other procedures linked to disability claims, including as hearings, appeals, quality controls, and reviews, may be put on hold while services relating to the payment of benefits are given priority, she said.

Depending on how long the closure lasts, the backlogs in the disability program “are likely to get bigger,” Freese said.

Which Social Security actions could be impacted
A partial shutdown of agency activities in the event of a lapse is planned, according to the Social Security Office of Budget, Finance, and Management.

The Social Security Administration would need a half-day to finish its shutdown tasks. Before a plan is put into place, it is anticipated that nearly 61,900 employees will be on board; nevertheless, if a shutdown is in place, it is anticipated that 8,500 agency employees will be placed on furlough.

What will stop during a government shutdown?

  1. Benefit attestation
  2. Updates and revisions to earnings records
  3. Payment records
  4. Activities of prisoners — suspension
  5. inquiries made by outside parties
  6. Requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
  7. IT-related trainings, public relations, and improvement initiatives
  8. Replacement cards for Medicare
  9. handling of overpaymentsActivities that will continue during a government shutdown
    • Applications for benefits (including appointments, limited data exchanges and record corrections, including claims-related earnings, for mandatory benefits)
    • Requests for appeals (reconsiderations, hearings, Appeals Council)
    • Post-entitlement actions (changes of address, Supplemental Security income living arrangement changes, noncitizen verification/changes, direct deposit, death inputs, processing of remittances for overpayments and administrative fees)
    • Non-receipts and critical payments
    • Payee changes
    • Direct contact reinstatement of benefits
    • Issuance of original and replacement Social Security cards
    • Prisoner activities — beneficiary-initiated reinstatement of benefits only
    • Program integrity workloads (redeterminations and continuing disability reviews) due to the extended availability of appropriations
    • Critical information technology support for daily processing activities
    • IT multifactor authentication acceleration work

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