Social Security, Medicare to proceed after government shutdown
Essential services will continue regardless of budget impasse
While the prospect of a government shutdown is worrying, such programs such as Social Security and Medicare - of which many senior citizens are dependent on, will continue unabated. These programs are viewed as essential services that will continue to make payments even as many other federal operations halt. Unlike typical federal programs, these mandatory entitlements have their own streams of revenue from payroll taxes, which require no congressional vote to authorize.
While the prospect of a government shutdown is worrying, such programs such as Social Security and Medicare - of which many senior citizens are dependent on, will continue unabated.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - However -- while these high-priority programs continue to make payments for beneficiaries, a shutdown might force them to scale back on staffing levels. Some phones may go unanswered and new enrollees may face delays in getting benefits launched.
Federal agencies have been tight-lipped about their specific emergency plans if Republicans, Democrats and President Obama can't reach a deal to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2011, which ends September 30.
Both the White House and some lawmakers in both parties have sough to provide assurance, tempered with warnings that a shutdown wouldn't just be business as usual.
"Seniors will continue to get their Medicare and Social Security checks," Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia says on his Web site. Forbes suggests that "seniors could see delays in receiving their checks due to under-staffed offices. Additionally, during past government shutdowns, the Social Security Administration had to delay processing and payment for new claims and those who filed a change of address form."
Om addition, doctors and hospitals are expecting that Medicare payments will flow as usual.
"We are in touch with the [Obama] administration and they are aware of the importance of the timely processing of Medicare claims," Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association says. "We will do everything possible to be sure physicians are paid in a timely manner so seniors will have continued access to the health care they need."
One challenge, whether federal programs are mandatory entitlements like Medicare or not, is that federal workers are usually paid by funds that Congress appropriates. Just because the Social Security Administration has a trust fund to pay beneficiaries doesn't mean it has money on hand to pay its own staff.
Workers who stay on the job doing "essential" work wouldn't be paid until funding is enacted by Congress.
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