Social Security payments do not require annual funding like some other government programs. However, the SSA cannot issue new cards during a shutdown.
Just hours before the Oct. 1 closing deadline, President Biden signed a bill passed by Congress that will fund the federal government through Dec. 3.
Each year, Congress must pass and the president must sign a budget bill for the next fiscal year to get proper funding for agencies and programs that rely on annual funding. When Congress and the president fail to pass and sign a new budget before the start of the next fiscal year, which begins in October, the government will enter a “shutdown” in which everything will no longer be funded without funding. can work.
Congress has until the end of the day on September 30, 2021 to approve a new budget to avoid a shutdown.
Viewer Sheri asked VERIFY about the impact of a government shutdown on people receiving Social Security benefits.
Are Social Security benefits affected by the government shutdown?
No, government shutdowns do not affect Social Security payments. Funding for the Social Security program comes from an independent revenue pool that does not require annual funding. However, a government shutdown would prevent the SSA from issuing new Social Security cards.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CRFB says Social Security payments will continue during a government shutdown. This also applies to other mandatory expenses that are not subject to annual credits, such as Medicare and Medicaid. Mandatory spending is not determined by annual budget accounts, the CBO says.
The Social Security Administration explains that Social Security is funded through a special payroll tax, and any additional income the taxes generate goes into trust funds set aside for future Social Security payments. Those funds won’t be exhausted until 2033, according to the SSA’s 2021 report.
The SSA has funds available for both administrative costs to pay on time and for the payments themselves, even if the government were to close. But a government shutdown could cause problems for aspects of the Social Security program other than making payments.
“We know from past government shutdowns that the federal government will be able to send Social Security benefits even if it’s partially closed,” said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “What is affected in Social Security is the ability of new beneficiaries to claim benefits because some of the employees who would do so will be on leave for that period and not work.”
That means, according to the CRFB, the program would not be able to verify eligibility for benefits and be unable to issue new Social Security cards. In a blog post from just before the start of the government shutdown in 2018-2019, Democratic Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan said 60,000 Americans apply for a Social Security card every day.
While not a factor in most government shutdowns, a potential shutdown in 2021 would coincide with the Treasury Department approaching the debt limit. The Treasury Department should not keep its daily expenses higher than its daily income if it reached this debt limit. The Bipartisan Policy Center says it’s unclear whether the Treasury Department has the ability or legal authority to choose which programs to pay for. As a result, both the Bipartisan Policy Center and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have warned that Social Security payments could be delayed in a scenario where the Treasury Department reaches the debt limit before Congress suspends or increases it.
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