Government Shutdown 2013: What Military Families Need to Know

Governmetn Shutdown

No deal: Government still shutdown: Furloughs ending for DoD civilians supporting service members and their families

Survivor Benefits - updated 10/11; Military Pay information - updated 10/9; DoD Civilian Info - updated 10/9; Survivor information - updated 10/8; Pay Information - updated 10/8; Commissaries - updated 10/7

On October 5, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that DoD civilian employees “whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” will return to work. The Secretary’s memorandum listed several activities where civilians would be called back from furlough, including health care, family support programs, commissary operations and installation support. It is important to remember that military families will still be affected by the shutdown. We will continue to update this list of frequently asked questions and resources. Please bookmark this page and check back for updates. If you have questions, leave them in the comment box below and we’ll research and respond to your concerns.

Will my service member be paid?
Will military retirees be paid?
What family support and installation services will remain open during a shutdown?
Will access to health care be impacted?
Will PCS or temporary duty orders be cancelled or delayed?
Will the shutdown impact my VA benefits, the Post-9/11 GI Bill payments, or disability claims?
Will DoDEA schools remain open?
Will Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees be impacted?
Where can we go for financial help?
Can a service member take leave during a government shutdown?
Will nutrition assistance programs still be available?
Will survivors be supported during the shutdown?
Service Guidance
Related Articles

 


Will my service member be paid? 

Pay will be received on time. Military pay is protected for five of the seven Uniformed Services. The President signed Pay our Military Act into law which will provide pay and allowances to the service members who are part of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. Unfortunately, the new law does not cover pay for the Commissioned Corps of Public Health Services or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

DFAS received final guidance from DoD and normal pay and allowances will be processed for the mid-October pay date.

Generally, activated or mobilized National Guard and Reserve will be paid. Guardsmen and Reservists who are in support of excepted operations will be paid. Drills are being cancelled and consequently, those Guardsmen and Reservists will not be paid for those drills. If you are a member of the National Guard and Reserve, please contact your chain of command.

Will military retirees be paid? 
 
Yes, military retirees and survivor benefits are not dependent on regular appropriations. However, retirement checks could be delayed or reduced later in October when the federal government reaches the debt ceiling limit.

What family support and installation services will remain open during a shutdown? 
(Military families are encouraged to verify with their local installations.)

  • Military OneSource will remain open - available by web and phone (800-342-9647) 24/7.
  • Commissaries are now open.
  • Child Development Centers will remain open; however School Age Care (SAC) not attached to a CDC may close. Please check with your local installation to determine if alternative arrangements should be made.
  • Education centers supporting service members and families will be closed.
  • Tuition assistance will not be authorize or granted for new classes.
  • Family support center staffing will be determined by installation commanders
  • Family Advocacy Program staffing will be determined by installation commanders. 
  • Exchanges will remain open.
  • Military and Family Life Counselors (MFLC) will continue to provide services.
  • Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs (MWR) supporting "excepted activities" such as dining facilities, physical training, and child care activities will remain open.
  • My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) will not process new financial assistance requests. However, those with approved financial assistance accounts prior to October 1, 2013 will be processed.

Will access to health care be impacted? 

TRICARE has issued a statement about the government shutdown. If you normally get your health care in a military hospital or military clinic, you may find reduced hours. Each military treatment facility (MTF) will establish appointment hours and access to services including lab and pharmacy services. Depending on each military hospital or military clinic’s staffing, there will probably be a different mix of available services. We advise families to call whatever phone number you would normally call for information or to make an appointment before you travel to your military hospital or military clinic for any reason.

As always, if you or a family member has an emergency medical situation, immediately go to the closest emergency room or dial 911. If the need is not an emergency, but you need urgent care and cannot get in touch with anyone at your military hospital or military clinic, we recommend that you call your TRICARE Regional contractor for information and instructions. Here is their contact information:

North: Health Net at 1.877.874.2273
South: Humana at 1.800.444.5445
West: UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans at 1.877.988.9378 
Overseas: International SoS and Country-Specific Toll-Free Numbers

If you normally get your care from civilian health care providers, you should not notice a disruption in service due to the shutdown. TRICARE contractors will continue to provide all of their services and their call centers will be operational.

Pharmacy coverage is available. However, if you receive your prescriptions from a military hospital or clinic, please check the pharmacy for updated hours. If you cannot access a military pharmacy, you may have your prescription filled at a network pharmacy. Contact Express Scripts at 1.877.363.1303 if you need assistance obtaining access to a pharmacy. 

Will PCS or temporary duty orders be cancelled or delayed? 

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders may be canceled or delayed. Service members should talk to their command for specific information about your orders. Personnel who work at transportation offices may be furloughed.

The official DoD guidance is vague:

  • Separation orders will continue
  • Initial entry/recruitment moves will continue
  • Other moves only TO an excepted activity
  • Other moves only FROM an excepted activity if deemed essential to the mission or to enhance excepted activities (determined by command)

Bottomline – service members must check with their command.

Will the shutdown impact my VA benefits, such as VA healthcare, the Post-9/11 GI Bill payments, or disability claims? 

The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued guidance on what services will be delayed and what services will continue. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have provided veteran specific government shutdown FAQs.

Some frequently asked veteran specific questions include:

Will I still be able to receive health care from a VA hospital or clinic?

Yes, in 2009 Congress passed a law to fund VA health care one year in advance. Additional the Veterans Crisis Line will remain open.

What about VA disability, pension, or GI Bill payments?

All payments for October are already processed. VA benefits are protected and should continue during a shutdown. However, if the shutdown lasts longer than 2 – 3 weeks benefit payments for November could be impacted.

Will VA claims continue to be processed?

It depends on the type of claim. There will be delays for new claims and appeals. The Veterans Field Guide to Government Shutdown states, Claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted.

Please note some VA phone lines will be closed during the shutdown, including the education benefit line. Please check www.va.gov for updated information. 

Will DoDEA schools remain open? 

Yes. We have confirmed DoDEA schools are exempt from the shutdown and will remain open.

Will Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employees be impacted? 

On October 5, Secretary of Defense Hagel announced that DoD civilian employees “whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members,” will return to work. The Secretary’s memorandum listed several activities where civilians would be called back from furlough, including health care, family support programs, commissary operations and installation support. Further legislation is necessary for employees to receive retroactive pay for days lost to the shutdown. The amount of pay for October 1 – 5 will be dependent on whether an employee is exempt, excepted from furlough, or furloughed. Pay will be received on the normal pay date beginning October 11. Read what DoD has to say about Furlough Questions on Civilian Leave and Pay.

Where can we go for financial help? 

Do not turn to payday lenders – your military community has the resources to provide assistance. If your family experiences a hardship due to a reduced paycheck, we urge you to seek assistance from a military aid organization or military bank or military credit union. Aid organizations, military banks, and credit unions have short-term loans available to help in this situation.

Aid organizations are ready and willing to help service members and their families.

If you are not located near an aid organization, you may contact your local Red Cross to be connected with aid organization resources. Each aid organization has an agreement with the Red Cross to provide the same type of financial assistance to military families who do not live near a military installation.

Our Association has contacted a sampling of military banks and credit unions. Military banks and credit unions have a variety of programs to assist federal employees and service members.

Here is the statement from the Association of Military Banks of America:

"In the event of a government shutdown, the military banks will respond, as they have in the past when faced with natural disasters and pending government shutdowns, by providing tailored, case-by-case assistance to their military and civilian customers. They are well aware of the impact of a government shutdown on the Department of Defense, and understand that service members and civilian employees will be affected. A similar shutdown was threatened in April 2011 and the military banks stood ready then to support their military and civilian customers. If you are in need of assistance, please contact your military bank for more information."

Military families who use automatic payments are encouraged to contact their bank and make alternative arrangements. For example, families may transfer money from a savings account to a checking account to cover the automatic payment.

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions has complied a list of credit unions that will offer assistance to members in event of a shutdown.  Credit union members must contact their credit union directly to get complete details. Examples of support include interest free advance credit of direct deposit, loan payment deferment, payment reductions, etc.

We urge military families to contact their bank to review their individual situation and the guidance established by their financial entity. Below are links to banks and credit unions with specific government shutdown plans:

Air Force Federal Credit Union
Marine Federal Credit Union
USAA 

Can a service member take leave during a government shutdown? 

Normal leave rules apply in this situation. If a service member is already on leave status and the government furloughs employees, then it is the organizational leadership's decision on whether to recall individuals back from leave status based on mission requirements. The unit may be required to pay for all travel costs associated with the recall to the duty location. If military personnel are planning leave, and the government furloughs employees, then it is the organizational leadership's decision on whether to cancel the scheduled/planned leave and have those military members report for duty, or allow them to continue on leave. Again, the mission requirements should inform decision makers. Military commanders will evaluate each leave request on a case by case basis.

Will nutrition assistance programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) still be available? What about free and reduced price school lunches? 

The Department of Agriculture has announced that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits for October. Child Nutrition Programs, which include free and reduced price school lunches, will also continue to be available for eligible families at least through October. However, no funds are available to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides nutrition assistance to low income mothers and children. Some states may have reserve funds that allow them to continue administering the program for a limited time. Military families receiving assistance through the WIC program should check with their local office for updates.

Military families who are eligible for WIC and who reside overseas will continue to receive this assistance. Visit TRICARE's website for more information on the WIC Overseas Program.

Will survivors be supported during the shutdown? 

On October 10 the President signed a law that will allow the government to pay death gratuity and burial benefits to the families of people who have died on active duty since October 1. The National Military Family Association is grateful to our friends at the Fisher House Foundation for working with the DoD to pay the money to the families, with the promise of being reimbursed by DoD once the shutdown ends. We thank the other charitable organizations like the Service Aid Societies who also stepped in to pay other burial expenses.

Service Guidance 

Hagel Announces Recall of Most Defense Department Civilians

Department of Defense Guidance for Continuation of Operations in the Absence of Available Appropriations

Department of Defense Contingency Place Guidance

Army: Information for Soldiers, civilians impacted by the government shutdown

Army Reserve FAQs

Navy: Navy Life Official Blog – What we know about the government shutdown

Marine Corps: Headquarters Marine Corps

 

Related Articles 

Military Community and Family Policy Guidance on family support programs
Veterans Field Guide to Government Shutdown
DFAS Government Shutdown: Impacts on Pay
DFAS shutdown FAQs
DOD Taking Prudent Steps in Face of Government Shutdown
American Society of Association Executives
Overseas commissaries to remain open in event of government shutdown
Veterans Field Guide to Goverment Shutdown
Government Shutdown Looms
What Gov't Shutdown Means for Veterans
DoD Guidance for Civilian Employees
Looming Gov't Shutdown: Your Questions Answered

What Questions Do You Have? We will do our best to answer in a timely manner.

 

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Comment: National Guard and Reserve information • Reserve component personnel performing Active Guard Reserve (AGR) duty will continue to report for duty to carry out AGR authorized duties. • Reserve component personnel will NOT perform inactive duty training (IDT) resulting in the obligation of funds, except where such training directly supports an excepted activity, and may not be ordered to active duty, except in support of those military operations and activities necessary for national security, including fulfilling associated pre-deployment requirements. Excepted military operations are determined by DoD. • Orders for members of the National Guard currently performing duties under 32 U.S.C. 502(f) will be terminated unless such duties are in support of excepted activities. Bottomline: Check with your command
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: how long before title 32 AGR soldiers stop getting paid
Submitted by: on October 3, 2013
Comment: Thank you.
Submitted by: on October 3, 2013
Comment: Hailey26: are you traveling on orders? Ask your service member to verify with his command. The command may have a more accurate response as the date nears.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: Sharon: Do you receive your child support payment through an allotment? If so, and the service member is paid, allotments will continue.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: We have several questions about orders, from routine PCS, to separation. The DoD guidance is vague. We recommend individuals verify their specific situation with their command. We are continuing to research and will update if we find out more specific information.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: Will I still receive my child and spousal support with the government shut down?
Submitted by: Sharon on October 3, 2013
Comment: Marine04: Is the back pay a DoD or VA payment? It may be helpful to check with DFAS for specifics or your administrative branch.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: Questions regarding graduation dates: Please check with your service member. Schedules, locations, etc could be impacted due to other installations closures.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: I'm waiting to join my husband overseas next month. I have my passport,my visa and a booked flight. Will I be affected and not be able to go?
Submitted by: hailey26 on October 3, 2013
Comment: National Guard Mom: Have your son check his pay dates. He can also contact DFAS.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: DOT: Medicare pricing is not impacted by this. However, it could still change. Please contact Medicare.
Submitted by: National Military Family Association on October 3, 2013
Comment: I am supposed to be receiving a back pay check sometime in the next couple of days, will this be on hd during the shut down? I recieved my approval letter 9/27 and it said I will get the check within 15 days.
Submitted by: Marine04 on October 3, 2013
Comment: Retiring Civilian from Overseas location (Korea) Do I still retire and move or will I have to remain in place. Understand my household goods and POV will remain at the outgoing port until appropriation bill has been signed.
Submitted by: JAY on October 3, 2013
Comment: Hello, National Military Family Association! I was wondering if; Since AFPC is no longer working will my separation orders still be generated? Thank you!
Submitted by: Jacque-Dan on October 3, 2013
Comment: will the people in college still receive benefits to help pay for their college?
Submitted by: beth on October 2, 2013
Comment: Is there an official announcement saying that military members cannot take leave? How is leave impacted?
Submitted by: Military Leave on October 2, 2013
Comment: commersary open
Submitted by: on October 2, 2013
Comment: My son is scheduled to graduate AIT at Ft Huachuca on 10.31.13. Will the shutdown impact graduation dates?
Submitted by: Mike on October 2, 2013
Comment: If you received orders to be stationed in a foreign country at the end of October, what happens to your orders? Do you still proceed as normal, or will they be cancelled?
Submitted by: Concerned on October 2, 2013
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