Answers to Common Questions on the Impacts of a Federal Government Shutdown
Will I continue to receive my Social Security and SSI checks? Recipients will continue to receive their Social Security and SSI checks. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will provide limited services like issuing Social Security cards and holding appointments for benefit applications. However, SSA will stop services like benefit verifications and processing overpayments. Customer service wait times will likely increase.
Will Medicare and Medicaid benefits be affected? Current Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance beneficiaries will continue to receive their benefits assuming a shutdown lasts less than three months.
Will air travel be affected? Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will remain on the job without pay. If some do not report to work, as has happened in prior shutdowns, there will be significant delays and longer wait times across the country.
What is the impact on food assistance? The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will quickly run out of funding and be unable to provide food for children and parents in need. In the case of a prolonged shutdown, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may also be affected.
Will my mail still arrive? Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a shutdown.
What is the impact on state and local services? The federal government shutdown will not immediately affect any state or local services. However, with federal funding cut off, some state or local governments may have to change their operations.
How will this affect small businesses? The Small Business Administration (SBA) will stop processing new business loans, such as through the 7(a) and 504 programs. However, SBA’s Disaster Loan Program will continue regular operations.
What happens to veterans’ services? All Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and clinics will remain operational. The VA will continue to process veterans’ benefits. However, veterans will be affected by the shutdown of other services that they count on, including education and job training, support for veteran-owned businesses, and even assistance for homeless veterans.
What is the impact on U.S. military personnel? All active-duty and Guard and Reservists on active-duty orders are excepted and therefore are required to work without pay. On-base non-acute health care will cease, although off-base care provided through Tricare will not be affected. On-base child care will be open on a case-by-case basis. Federal law enforcement will also be required to work without pay for the duration of a shutdown.
Will military and federal retiree benefits be suspended? Military and federal retirees will continue to receive their retirement benefits. Processing new applications or other requested changes will be delayed.
How does this affect passports and help for Americans overseas? Consular services, passport services, and visa services are expected to continue in the immediate aftermath of a government shutdown. In a prolonged shutdown, passport and visa issuance could be slowed. Access to passport agencies located in some government buildings may be limited.
Will I still be able to visit National Parks and monuments? Across the country, services that require National Park Service staff — including trash removal and operating campgrounds and concessions — may be stopped. Closures will be determined on a location-by-location basis; open-air parks and monuments in Washington, D.C. will likely remain accessible. Smithsonian museums may also be impacted by a lengthy shutdown.
What does this mean for medical research? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to delay new clinical trials. New patients who are waiting for a chance at new treatment through a clinical trial will be turned away.
What is the impact on food safety activities? Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety activities — such as routine inspections of facilities — will be delayed across the country.
What does this mean for disaster relief efforts? Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff will still respond to emergencies, but all long-term projects will be delayed due to a lack of funding in the Disaster Relief Fund.
How will this affect environmental protection and cleanup? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will stop inspecting most hazardous waste sites, as well as drinking water and chemical facilities. Efforts to address dangerous contaminants like PFAS — which are linked to severe health effects, including cancer — will be delayed, and cleanup activities at Superfund sites will slow or cease.
What is the impact on housing? The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will stop insuring some new mortgages and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will stop processing some new loans. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stop new loan and loan guarantee activity. The VA will continue to guarantee home loans. Funding for federal housing assistance programs, such as Housing Choice Vouchers, may be jeopardized in a prolonged shutdown.