Social Security Benefits Will Continue to be Paid
The good news is that Social Security retirement, disability and other benefits are continuing to be paid during the government shut down.
The bad news is that some services are not available during the shutdown, the annual COLA announcement has been delayed, and if the debt ceiling isn’t resolved soon, Social Security beneficiaries could see an interruption in their payments.
Not All Services Will be Available
According to the Social Security website (ssa.gov),
Due to the Federal Government Shutdown, Social Security field offices are open with limited services.
Some of the services that will still be available include:
- Help applying for benefits
- Assistance with appeals (disability benefits)
- Address changes
- Changes to your direct deposit information
- Death notifications (and application for survivor benefits), and
- Help with missing Social Security payments
However, the SSA has stated that they can not help with the following services during the shutdown:
- Issuing a new or replacement Social Security card
- Replacing your Medicare card
- Issuing a proof of income letter (often needed for people who live in Section 8 housing or who receive other public assistance)
The online services at www.ssa.gov will remain available so with the exception of getting a new or replacement card, or a proof of income letter, it seems to be business as usual at the Social Security Administration.
COLA Announcement Delayed
Social Security benefits are adjusted each year for inflation. While the amount of the increase for 2014 has been speculated upon, no official announcement has been made yet due to the partial government shutdown.
The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won’t be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the government shutdown….More at Social Security recipients, others wait for benefit adjustment; shutdown … – Washington Post
Unfortunately, when the COLA is finally announced, I fear that most beneficiaries will be disappointed. The expected increase for 2014 is only 1.5%, lower than the 2012 increase (1.7%), and significantly lower than the 2011 increase (3.6%).
Debt Ceiling Could Cause Interruption in Social Securty Benefits Being Paid
As of today (October 14, 2013), no progress has been made in ending the government shutdown or increasing the debt ceiling.
According to the AARP,
The nation’s economic situation could go from bad to worse if Congress fails to increase the government’s borrowing authority by the Oct. 17 deadline, according to Obama….
It’s not the government shutdown that is the problem as Social Security checks are still going out on time. However, if the debt ceiling isn’t lifted, funds to pay benefits may not be available and the Obama administration will have to decide who will get paid and who won’t.
For more information on how the debt ceiling affects Social Security, please see Social Security Enters the Debt-Ceiling Fray – AARP.