Will I Still Receive Benefits During a Government Shutdown?

Depending on the program, recipients may be granted benefits for the timeframe that they have already been approved for. In other words, each state has announced a January deadline for benefits applications in order to continue helping existing cases. While several benefits are unaffected, there are limited funds for those barely staying afloat. Money is rumored to be completely exhausted for food assistance by late February or early March.

Why is This Affecting My Benefits?

Programs like SNAP, Social Security, and TANF (to name a few) are federally funded. During times of government shutdown, government employees are unable to work which means there is little-to-no assistance in local offices. Even if the funds are available, the services will slow down, causing cases to fall behind.
A shutdown also means that the federal funding to these programs is cut off. To avoid finding out what will happen when the funds run out, local government offices are attempting to supplement the funds once they’ve been depleted.

SNAP/EBT

With funding in decline, the USDA cannot take on more cases until an agreement is reached. Therefore, a deadline for SNAP/EBT and Families First applications was issued for January and has been reached. Those approved before the deadline can still receive benefits that backtrack to the date of application. However, because the local human services departments are closed or short-staffed, benefits for the month of February will be granted early (by January 20, 2019). February’s benefits will be given early to ensure that recipients still get the help they need.
Unfortunately, until the shutdown is lifted, benefits for March or any month thereafter are not guaranteed. This means recipients will have to stretch those benefits and pinch pennies to afford necessities until further notice.

Do I Need to Spend Benefit Money Now?

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is expecting a high amount of SNAP/EBT transactions throughout the remainder of the month. At the moment stores are still accepting these funds, but the concern is of how long this will last and what happens when the funds run out but there is still money on the card. For now, there is no definite answer since funds are there and state governments are making efforts to maintain the balance.

HUD

The Department of Housing and Urban Development relies on reserved funding for times like this. It should have enough to stay afloat for a month-long shutdown. There are areas in which offices are partially closed. While some landlords await payment, tenants await assistance, and other applicants are left in limbo, these are the offices that remain open during a government shutdown:

  • Public Housing Authorities (PIH/PHA) and their websites
  • The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO)
  • The Federal Housing Administration within the Office of Housing (FHA)
  • Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

For details on each office’s role in HUD and how they operate during a shutdown, click here.

Which Benefits are Not Affected?

The following will not be affected by the shutdown:

How Can I Stay Informed if Offices are Closed?

The USDA typically oversees FNS activity and gave useful information for as long as possible. Unfortunately, a lack of funding has caused the website to pause its regular flow of updated information. The USDA’s site contains general information about the efforts to aid in SNAP/EBT funding.
Other .com sites have taken over the regular updates to provide program information as the shutdown continues. Click here to see recent news about SNAP/EBT and how it may affect existing cases.
For more local information about an individual state’s status, visit the state or county’s Department of Human/Social/Health Services website.

A Brief History of Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability as it is known today was established in 1954 when the Social Security Act was amended to offer benefits to disabled workers in the 50-64 age range and also disabled adult children. In 1960 the law was amended again to allow workers of any age and their dependents to receive disability payments. In 1960, over 500,000 people received disability benefits that averaged about $80 per month.

The Social Security Administration manages the Disability program. Contacting the agency is the first step when an individual feels that he or she will no longer be able to work due to an injury or illness. The Disability Determination Service in the state where an applicant resides is responsible for reviewing medical records and determining if an individual is too disabled or ill to return to work.

Eligibility

Individuals who suffer from conditions that render them unable to be gainfully employed may be eligible for Social Security Disability. An applicant must have a disability or illness that has been diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider. The applicant’s doctor must provide documentation that clearly outlines the scope of the disability and why it prevents an individual from working. To receive benefits, there must be medical proof that the applicant’s condition will prevent him or her from returning to work.

How to Apply

A Social Security Disability claim is not difficult to initiate. Persons who feel that they might qualify for disability can start the application online, over the telephone, or by visiting a Social Security office. The purpose of the application is for the Social Security Administration to collect identifying information such as age, proof of identity, work history, and medical history regarding the disabling condition. Once that information has been collected, the applicant will need to make sure that his or her health care providers send medical records that include treatments, lab test results, x-rays, and any other pertinent information.

The Approval Process

Several months may pass before an applicant receives notification regarding approval or denial of disability benefits. If the application is approved, an applicant may receive back pay that covers the months he or she would have been eligible for payments while awaiting a decision.

Approval for Social Security Disability is not automatic. In fact, if the Disability Determination Service finds that an applicant does not qualify for benefits, the application will be denied. If an applicant’s initial application is denied, there is an appeals process. Like the initial application, an appeal can be started online, by telephone, or by visiting a Social Security Office. Many people find that hiring an attorney can help them be successful when appealing a denial.

Where to Find More Information

The Social Security Administration is the best source of information regarding the disability program. An individual whose injury or illnesses may prevent him or her from initiating an application may ask a family member, friend, helping professional, or an attorney to assist with the process. Visit social security offices near me to find your local Social Security office near you.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What We Anticipated

President Donald Trump received a phone call from the president of Taiwan last December, and during this call, he implied the United States would no longer comply with the “One China” policy, his supporters applauded him as they took it as a sign of power. Trump is potentially disrupting tens of years of typically diplomatic procedures with this fragile issue as the introduction.

Last Thursday evening,  Donald Trump retreated; during a call with China’s President Xi Jinping, he assured China that he recognizes One China, a policy where the United States is complying to recognize a single Chinese government in Beijing and ends its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, it has been active for 44 years.

President Trump went on to address Israel’s center. After attempting to appear as a defender of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who would put pressure on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Trump warned Israelis this week that he wasn’t convinced that “going ahead with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

Regarding Iran, President Trump threatened when he was the Republican nominee to shred the nuclear deal composed by former President Barack Obama. Senior advisers to the new President Trump asserted to the European Union’s top foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, that the United States would fully comply with the previous agreement.

President Donald Trump is beginning to show his true intentions regarding foreign policy, further proving that his radical notions during his campaign were only a ploy to enter the White House.  Yesterday, Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, was welcomed into the White House by President Trump, who has described America’s relationship with Japan as a “cornerstone of peace and stability.” These words surely invoke questions considering they hardly resemble his threats during his campaign.

“Every president discovers that it looks different from the perspective of the Oval Office than it did on the campaign trail,” said Martin S. Indyk, the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution. “The fact that President Trump is proving flexible on some key foreign policy issues suggests he’s less ideologically driven than his early moves would imply.”