Will the Government Shutdown Affect Social Security?


Quick Answer

Social Security payments have been largely unaffected by government shutdowns. However, employee furloughs at the Social Security Administration have prevented the federal government from approving new beneficiaries and issuing new Social Security cards in the past.

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Full Answer

Social Security payments are mandatory and are not subject to the same rules as discretionary federal spending, such as research funding or construction projects. As long as the Social Security Administration can keep enough employees working to process payments, the benefits can go through.

However, shutdowns related to the federal government's ability to issue bonds and raise money could possibly imperil Social Security payments. In previous fiscal crises, Social Security administrators have found ways to keep payments to beneficiaries flowing, and Congress has acted to prevent budget and spending fights from cutting off Social Security benefits.

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