Skip to Content

2023 Federal Shutdown FAQ

Social Security checks WILL NOT be delayed during a government shutdown
but wait times for beneficiary services could be longer.

Funding for the federal government expires on September 30. I am working to keep critical services up and running for families in our community, but House Republicans are charging ahead with shutting down the government. 

A Republican shutdown will have serious impacts across the nation, hurting working families, damaging our economy, and endangering our security. To help you plan for a possible federal government shutdown, my office has prepared answers to these frequently asked questions. You can also contact my office

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 dramatically 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. 

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 transition assistance, career counseling, and cemetery grounds maintenance.

What is the impact on food assistance? 

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) funding will halt. If you have questions about your benefits, please find more information here.

USDA has enough resources to administer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for one month following a September 30 shutdown, meaning benefits will be available for October. In the case of a prolonged shutdown, however, benefits will be impacted.

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 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. 

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. 

Will my mail still arrive? 
Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is not affected by a shutdown. 

Which federal employees keep working during a government shutdown? 
When the government shuts down, federal agencies are required to classify their employees whose salaries have lapsed as either "excepted" or "not excepted." The employees classified as "excepted" work without pay during the shutdown. The employees classified as "not excepted" are put on unpaid furlough. 

What is the impact on U.S. military personnel and federal law enforcement? 
All active-duty and Guard and Reservists on active-duty orders are excepted and therefore are required to work without pay. Elective surgery and other elective procedures in DoD dental and medical facilities will cease but inpatient care and acute and emergency outpatient care in DoD facilities will continue. 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. 

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. Should the shutdown continue until employees either will not or cannot continue to work without pay, as has happened in previous shutdowns, travelers could experience longer wait times at the airport and flight delays.

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 does this mean for medical research? 
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be forced to delay new clinical trials, and may be forced to halt research in progress. New patients who are waiting for a chance at new treatment through a clinical trial will be turned away. 

Will I still be able to visit National Parks and monuments? 
National Park Service (NPS) sites will be closed. This means that the majority of national parks will be closed completely to public access. Areas that, by their nature, are physically accessible to the public will face significantly reduced visitor services.

At NPS sites across the country, gates will be locked, visitor centers will be closed, and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed. Accordingly, the public will be encouraged not to visit sites during the period of lapse in appropriations out of consideration for protection of natural and cultural resources, as well as visitor safety.

At parks with areas that are physically accessible to the public – meaning that due to their physical characteristics it is impossible or impractical to restrict public access, including park roads, lookouts, trails, campgrounds, and open-air memorials – these areas will remain physically accessible to the public. This would include the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. However, staffing levels and services including restroom and sanitation maintenance, trash collection, road maintenance, campground operations, and emergency operations will vary and are not guaranteed.

Activities to Protect Life and Property Will Remain Ongoing

During a potential lapse in government funding, the NPS will continue activities necessary to protect life and property, expressly authorized by law, and necessarily implied by law, including:

  • Law enforcement and emergency response

  • Border and coastal protection and surveillance

  • Fire suppression for active fires or monitoring areas currently under a fire watch

  • Protection of federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment, and other property within the National Park System, including research property

  • Activities that ensure production of power and maintenance of the power distribution system

  • And other services and activities as designated in the National Park Service’s contingency plan.

Click here to learn more about impacts to Department of the Interior operations. 

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. 

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. Check with state and local agencies for specific questions. 

Back to top