Archived Story

Social security, mail continue despite shutdown

Published 11:00pm Monday, September 30, 2013

While the possibility of a government shutdown loomed Monday evening, officials in Pike County were planning business as usual for today.

Many aspects of life will go on as normal for the county. According to a plan released by the government as to how a shutdown would work, mail would still be delivered, Social Security and Medicare benefits would remain in place, most veterans’ services would continue and active duty military members will stay on duty though their pay could be delayed.

The Pike County Probate Office will continue to accept applications for U.S. passports; however, Probate Judge Wes Allen said processing beyond Pike County could be delayed.

“I have not received any kind of email today from our passport contacts in New Orleans,” Allen said. “Tomorrow, that could change.”

No matter what the federal government’s status is Tuesday, Allen knows one thing for sure.

“No matter what happens with the federal government, Pike County will be open for business tomorrow.

Local representatives from the Department of Human Resources and Department of Veteran’s Affairs were out of the office and unavailable for comment Monday.

Below is a list compiled by the Associated Press of how a government shutdown could affect people, including service complications or continuations here in Pike County.

AIR TRAVEL

Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.

BENEFIT PAYMENTS

Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.

FEDERAL COURTS

Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.

MAIL

Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

RECREATION

All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and Alcatraz Island near San Francisco.

HEALTH

New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.

FOOD SAFETY

The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls, but would suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.

HEAD START

A small number of Head Start programs, about 20 out of 1,600 nationally, would feel the impact right away. The federal Administration for Children and Families says grants expiring about Oct. 1 would not be renewed. Over time, more programs would be affected. Several of the Head Start programs that would immediately feel the pinch are in Florida. It’s unclear if they would continue serving children.

FOOD ASSISTANCE

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.

School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.

TAXES

Americans would still have to pay their taxes and file federal tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service says it would suspend all audits. Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be shut as well.

LOANS

Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-insured mortgages could face delays. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, would still approve single-family loans, but with delays. Multi-family mortgage approvals would be suspended. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended.

SCIENCE

NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey would be halted.

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