Will a Government Shutdown Affect VA Disability Pay?

A Government shutdown is unlikely to affect VA disability pay negatively by stopping it after a certain period. However, that is not the end of the story since there is more to it. We need to look at recent Government shutdowns to have a detailed answer.

Indeed, a Government shutdown will inevitably have adverse effects on not only governmental agencies but also regular civilians, including military members and veterans. The worst of it can be the inability to pay millions of veterans with disabilities who are unable to work.


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But let’s discuss what hope there is in this article.

Most Common Reason Behind the Shutdown of the Government

There are two common reasons behind the shutdown of the Government of the USA. One of them is when the Government fails to pass an Appropriations Bill. This legislation is a budget (equal to a spending bill) that funds different federal programs, agencies, and departments.

There is also another bill that the US Government passes, namely the Authorization Bill. It allows the government to handle the funding and activities of all federal departments and agencies.

The second reason behind the shutdown of the Government is when it reaches the Debt Ceiling. In this case, the government gets to the limit of money it can borrow from the national treasury.

Understanding the Continuing Resolution

For times like a shutdown, the government has a concept called Continuing Resolution (CR). It is a part of the appropriations legislation. It keeps the government continuing its operation for a specific duration even after the shutdown.

The duration of the CR can vary depending on the votes. It can last from only some days to even months. However, once the expiration date is reached and the shutdown hasn’t ended yet, the government will have only three options-

  • Extend the CR
  • Pass a new CR
  • Cease to fund different government agencies, militaries, and other agencies. Although, they still keep supporting mandatory sectors like protecting the general public.

We should mention that any passing or extension of a CR needs votes by Congress and the president. After the polls, the CR can only be active if it is passed. So it won’t start automatically.

During the continuing resolution, the Government will keep paying veterans as usual. If the shutdown ends before the expiration date of the CR, the veterans and military members may not even notice a thing. The real worry is when the CR ends, but the shutdown doesn’t.

In many cases, Congress provides emergency funding to different sectors, including veteran benefits. However, that doesn’t happen during every shutdown. As such, it is not easy to provide a definitive answer.

A Lookback at the Most Recent Government Shutdown

The 2018-2019 US government shutdown didn’t affect veterans negatively. Most military paychecks and benefits were continued throughout it. The few unpaid military sectors were the US Coast Guard (USCG), Commissioned corps of the US Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

So, if the Government can continue or improve these shutdown situations, then veterans should have nothing to worry about. After all, it was the longest shutdown in US history.

Although, many previous shutdowns indeed proved problematic as the Gov failed to provide benefits and paychecks during many of them.

Why Is It Unlikely for VA Benefits to Stop During a Government Shutdown?

Why Is It Unlikely for VA Benefits to Stop During a Government Shutdown

There is an advanced appropriation bill for VA. It allows the VA funds to arrive a year earlier than all other funding. Hence, even during a shutdown, VA usually remains active, including its compensations.

However, if anyone is still not receiving their GI bills or it is delayed, they can call 1-888-442-4551 for help and reports.

Your To-Dos During a Government Shutdown

As a veteran, do not panic if the government shuts down. It won’t last long (the longest was 35 days), and you will likely get paid as always. So, don’t stop any process you were already going for. That includes-

  • Submission of any claims.
  • Going for any doctor’s appointments, such as to VA Disability Coach.
  • Asking your Social Security disability lawyer about any change in your medical condition. In fact, during a shutdown, case managers and your Social Security disability lawyer will try to submit the papers quickly to VA just in case. So, helping them out with the necessary information is ideal.

Final Note

There is not much to worry about during a Government shutdown as a veteran. If the worst scenario comes and the Government can’t provide funding for VA benefits, they may pass emergency bills. But it is rare to shut down VA benefits at such moments.

Make sure to continue with any activities regarding VA benefits you have been doing, like getting medical reports and evidence for an increase in compensation.