Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/goverment


If the government shuts down next week, what happens to VA benefits, ssdi,ssi and foodstamps? I've looked up 3 different sites on the internet and came away with 3 different answers.


Hi Joyce,

The answers are often vague and subject different factors, so it depends on the exact situation.

Typically, if the shutdown is only for a few days or even a couple of weeks, benefits continue to flow.  If the shutdown is prolonged, there can be problems getting out checks.

Social Security is "off budget" meaning it is paid through a trust fund and not subject to annual appropriations.  Therefore, those payments should continue.  There was a situation in 2013 where Congress was not only shutting down the government over the budget, but also over refusal to increase the debt limit.  There was some debate then as to whether the government could issue checks that would impact the debt limit.  But that is not the issue this year, so SS payments should be fine.

VA hospitals remain open, but disability benefits could possibly be suspended.  If the shutdown is short, the VA may allocate other funds to cover benefits in the short term.  But a prolonged shutdown may result in suspension.

Food stamps and other low income benefits are typically managed by the States.  State employees continuing to work in a federal shut down and most States have funds that can be use to provide assistance in the short term.  But again, they rely on federal money to continue so a prolonged shutdown could see a reduction or even a suspension of benefits.

But again, all of this is subject to Congressional action, and regulatory decisions, meaning that it is possible that all of this could change in the future depending on how agencies interpret their mandate and whether Congress creates other exceptions to suspensions.  To get the very latest you might want to email your Congressman.  He or she can usually provide the most accurate information for the current situation.

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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