Here's what happens to Social Security and disability benefits during a government shutdown

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  • If there is no agreement in the Senate, the federal government will enter into a partial shutdown at midnight.
  • In the event of a shutdown, Social Security and disability checks will still go out.
  • While core functions would not be affected, some Social Security Administration employees would be placed on furlough and minor services would be frozen.

Unless Congress reaches a last-minute deal, the federal government will enter into a partial shutdown at midnight, causing widespread adjustments for a slew of government programs.

All essential services will continue during a shutdown, such as public safety operations and Medicare payments.
Additionally, the shutdown should have little effect on Social Security checks. According to the Social Security Administration's shutdown contingency plan, released in December, most core programs and benefits would continue in the event of a shutdown.

"Funding for the programs under Titles II, XVI, and XVIII of the Social Security Act will continue, even in the event of a lapse in appropriations," the plan says.

A shutdown only affects funds annually appropriated by Congress, not funding that is sustained long-term. The Social Security trust fund is paid for through a combination of taxes and long-term investments.

Other core functions like disability claims or appeals over benefits would continue to function.

While checks still go out, some aspects of the Social Security Administration would get hit during a shutdown. Many employees would be placed on furlough, meaning they couldn't work and would not receive pay for the duration of the shutdown. (In past shutdowns, Congress has passed legislation to back-pay employees placed on furlough.)Additionally some functions like benefit verification and issuing Social Security cards would cease.