Government Shutdown Information
During the Government Shutdown, many crucial services will be impacted. We will keep this page as up to date as possible with information on agencies and services that are open and closed. All of my offices remain open and staffed for the immediate future to help you with specific issues. My Worcester office will remained open for limited hours over the weekend of October 5&6.
Capitol, White House, and any other tours of facilities overseen by the federal government are on hiatus.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION CLAIMS
The EEOC staff will not answer questions or respond to correspondence. Mediations and public events will be cancelled. The EEOC will request litigation extensions from federal courts. Unfortunately, it is not known whether the courts will grant these requests. Federal sector hearings will be cancelled, and federal employee appeals of discrimination complaints will not be decided.
Charges must still be filed within requisite deadlines, but they will not be investigated until the government reopens. Keep copies of all submitted paperwork, and ensure delivery receipt. To inquire about the status of an existing charge, email email@example.com.
FEDERAL EMPLOYEES & RETIREES
Furloughed federal employees are eligible for unemployment benefits. Benefits are administered by State agencies. Please remember that unemployment benefits are distributed weekly, but you must be out of work for a pay period to prove loss of benefits. Also, you cannot receive both unemployment benefits and a federal salary. The U.S. Department of Labor and OPM issued general guidance.
Retirees will most likely continue to receive pension payments. The Retirement Fund is not impacted by the lapses in Federal appropriations. Checks are mailed on the first of every month, and benefit checks for the month of October are currently scheduled for October 1, 2013. Please note, however, delays in processing existing payments and any new claims remain a possibility as OPM has not made or issued any definitive staffing decisions regarding essential personnel in the event of a federal government shutdown.
Unfortunately, the approaching October 17th debt ceiling deadline will also affect the availability of funds to pay retirees.
Our office cannot process flag requests at this time.
Many government contractors will not be paid during the shutdown. Any contractors working in a federal building, needing additional funding, or requiring federal worker assistance will likely be impacted.
The E-verify program is closed during the shutdown. Businesses will not be able to check on the immigration status of potential employees. Naturalization ceremonies, including those at Faneuil Hall, will not currently be impacted.
Taxes are still due, but audit activities are suspended. Taxpayers also will not be able to get usual levels of assistance.
Military members will be paid during the shutdown.
PASSPORT AND CONSULAR OFFICES
From the State Department: “Consular operations domestically and overseas will remain 100% operational as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations. However, if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported.”
SNAP AND WIC PROGRAMS
Federal funding for the Women, Infants, and Children program, which provides 9 million low-income women and children with food, in addition to nutrition training and health care referrals, is stopped. SNAP will continue into October.
SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance checks will continue to be mailed out for the immediate future. However, new applicants may have trouble filing claims, receiving replacement cards, or scheduling disability hearings.
For the immediate future, the Department of Education states, "there will be limited impact to the federal student aid application (FAFSA) process, to the delivery of federal student aid, or to the federal student loan repayment functions." A longterm shutdown would likely impact loan payments. Additionally, any delay beyond a week will drastically impact school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on the Department’s funds to support their services. The U.S. Department of Education will cease most operations.
A lapse in funding means furloughs for all 29 Farm Service Agency employees in Massachusetts and an immediate halt to all Farm Program and Farm Loan services in the state.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
Mail will continue to be delivered.
VETERANS AND VA CLAIMS
At the close of business Monday, October 7 all of VBA’s carryover funding will be exhausted (please see the VA’s contingency plan for a lapse in appropriations http://www.va.gov/opa/appropriations_lapse_plan.asp). Starting Tuesday, October 8, over 7,000 VBA employees will be put into furlough status, consistent with VA’s contingency plan. Because of these furloughs, a number of services will be suspended, including: the Education Call Center; personal interviews and hearings at regional offices; educational and vocational counseling; outreach activities and programs, including those conducted at military facilities; and VetSuccess on Campus. The shutdown of public access to VBA facilities also affects Veterans Service Organizations with office space in VBA facilities, as public access to these VSOs is also suspended.
In addition, 2,754 Office of Information Technology (OIT) employees will also be furloughed Monday, October 7 as OIT’s carryover balances will be exhausted. All development of VA software will cease, including work on the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), the system critically important to reducing the backlog of disability claims.
Consistent with applicable law, VA identified functions and services that will continue during the lapse in appropriations. VA determined that claims processing actions necessary to the payment of compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits will continue until VA’s remaining mandatory funds for these programs are exhausted, which is projected to happen in late October. Claims processors will be on duty during their normal work day only. Although, prior to the lapse in appropriations, VBA had extended mandatory overtime for claims processors until November 16, overtime has ceased during the lapse.
Veterans receiving a compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation payment from VA will continue to receive them. VA has not indicated that there will be a delay in payments. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, payments in these programs may be suspended when available funding is exhausted. VA is estimating that this may occur in late October.
Claims processing will continue, but there may be some additional delay because VA will not be able to continue overtime for claims processors. Also, VA has indicated that, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing may be suspended when available funding is exhausted. VA is estimating that this may occur in late October.
Veterans will be able to receive medical care at VA facilities. Because the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) receives advanced appropriations all medical facilities and clinics will remain fully operational. This includes: inpatient and outpatient care, prescriptions, surgeries, dental treatment, extended care, mental health care, nursing home care, and special health care services for women veterans.
Military honors for funerals are not currently available.