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How does the government shutdown affect federal programs?

January 2019

People may be concerned about how the partial federal government shutdown will affect federal programs. Here is some information that we collected on various programs. Connecticut residents affected by the shutdown can visit Resource for Connecticut Residents Affected by the Shutdown and the 2-1-1 Infoline website for more help.

For legal help, please contact Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320.

Housing Programs

The Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs should be funded at least through the end of February. This means that landlords who rent to voucher-holders should continue to get the housing subsidy.

Some project-based Section 8 contracts have expired, but that does not mean that residents in these buildings will be evicted. HUD (the federal agency that oversees these programs) has urged Public Housing and project-based Section 8 owners to use reserves if the shutdown continues beyond February. A landlord cannot evict a voucher-holder for the government’s failure to pay the subsidy. Tenants should continue to pay their portion of the rent and contact legal services if they get an eviction notice.

SNAP (Food Stamps)

Families should have received their February SNAP benefits on January 20, 2019 and there will not be any any additional benefits issued for the month of February. Funding for March SNAP benefits remains unclear.

Veterans Programs

VA operations continue uninterrupted, including benefits, medical care, and claim processing. However, active duty members of the Coast Guard are working without pay.

Social Security/Supplemental Security

Checks should still go out during the shutdown, and the Social Security Administration should be continuing to process applications and hold hearings.

Medicare/Medicaid

These programs are still operating and users should not see any change in services.

School Lunch Programs

The school lunch program should be funded through March.

Tax Refunds

The IRS is closed, but taxpayers still need to file their returns starting on January 28th. Automated services may be available, but the IRS is not answering phone calls. While the IRS will be processing tax returns, refunds (including the Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC) may be delayed. The IRS has free online filing software available at IRS.gov/freefile.

Immigration

While applications are still being processed, immigration courts are not operating during the shutdown.

Unemployment

Furloughed federal employees can apply for unemployment benefits, but unfortunately, federal employees who must work even though they are not getting paid are not eligible for benefits.

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