Our government is officially in a partial shut-down. All non-essential services are terminated but the essential service workers are on the job, albeit without pay. But what does this mean for our seniors?
Social Security Benefits
Seniors will continue receiving their Social Security checks. It is anticipated that checks will be issued on their regularly scheduled date. However, it is quite possible that there will be delays considering the Social Security Administration is operating with a reduced work force.
New applications for Social Security benefits or Medicare benefits will not be processed, as it appears that the Social Security Administration has just enough personnel on the job to get the checks out. Seniors will not be able to get replacement Social Security cards, replacement Medicare cards or proof of income letters and there will be no new disability hearings. This will impact all seniors applying for Medicaid benefits (see below).
VA hospitals will remain functional and certain Veterans benefits will continue. However, should the shut-down continue for 2 or 3 weeks, the Department of Veterans Affairs will not have enough money to pay Veterans pension benefits and disability claims, the result of which will affect some 3.6 million Veterans.
Parts of the IRS are shut-down. The processing of certain tax refunds is halted. The IRS will not process requests for copies of tax transcripts and returns and/or proof of non-filing (required for Medicaid Applications; see below).
Medicaid benefits will not be directly impacted by the government shut-down (provided the shut-down is not prolonged). However, those seniors who are currently applying for Medicaid benefits may have difficulty securing the required documentation to complete their applications, such as proof of IRS filings, proof of income statements from the Social Security Administration or replacement Social Security cards and Medicare cards (see above), each of which is required for all applications for Medicaid benefits.
National Institute of Health (NIH)
The NIH hotline for medical questions is shut down. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will cease its seasonal flu program and will have a severely reduced ability to respond to flu outbreaks and investigations.