It's time to prepare for a possible government shutdown. Here's what you need to know

Passport renewals and citizenship applications will be impacted. Also, experts say it's time to financially prepare now.

ByJohn Gregory WTVD logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
How to prepare for government shutdown 2023
How to prepare for government shutdown 2023

Federal lawmakers have just two weeks to fund a new budget -- or agree to push the deadline. Right now, neither seems likely, meaning the government could shut down.

A group of U.S. House Republicans has agreed on a short-term funding bill aimed at preventing a government shutdown at the end of the month. The challenge, however, will be getting everyone on board. Even if the GOP-led House approves the bill, it will likely be shot down by the Democratic-led U.S. Senate.

A government shutdown will impact different parts of your life. Here are seven things you need to know.

1. Essential services will continue to run

Essential services, like the post office, will keep running, and any furloughed employees will receive retroactive pay.

But even a short shutdown could delay some of your plans.

2. Passport renewals, citizenship applications will be impacted

"If you're dealing with the government for some reason, you need your passport renewed, you have friends that are applying for citizenship status here, you have questions with your IRS refund or about your taxes, you're planning to go visit a national park, all those things could be impacted because the people that are in charge of dealing with those things won't be on the job," explained Paul Helmke, director of the Civic Leaders Center at Indiana University.

3. Social Security, Medicare checks will be sent out

Social Security checks and Medicare benefits will still go out.

Some processes, like benefit verification or replacement Medicare cards, could be stalled.

4. Some SNAP, food stamp benefits could be impacted

If the government shutdown lasts more than 30 days, there could be bigger impacts.

SNAP will still be funded, but some food stamp benefits may not be sent out.

5. Unpaid federal workers could stop working

Essential government workers, such as first responders, may no longer be able to work without pay if the government shutdown lasts longer.

This happened in 2018 when a lack of TSA agents and air traffic controllers caused flight delays and terminal closures.

6. Prepare financially

"If the shutdown goes for more than a few days, it could end up impacting the economy significantly," Helmke said. "It could affect the nation's credit rating. That means there's going to be lost productivity, lost buying power, and that could end up impacting all of us as well."

If a government shutdown could impact you financially, now might be a good time to reevaluate your budget, put off any major purchases and build up your emergency fund.

7. Ask about payment options

If you miss a paycheck and can't pay your bills, insurance company USAA recommends contacting your financial companies.

Ask if there are any payment extension programs available for your credit cards, your mortgage or insurance policies.

Now, here's the good news

If the shutdown is short, most people won't feel much of an impact.