What You Can and Can't Do During a Government Shutdown - NBC 6 South Florida

Coverage of the stalemate in Congress that forced the U.S. government to a standstill

What You Can and Can't Do During a Government Shutdown



    No national parks. No new small business loans. No tax audits. No way to check that the employee you want to hire is a citizen.

    Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be furloughed now that the government has shut down. 

    Here's a list of what you likely can and can't do during a government shutdown. We’ll be adding to the list.

    During a shutdown, you can:

    Get help from 911:
    All emergency services will continue as usual, including law enforcement and emergency and disaster assistance.

    Gov't Shutdown Hits Over 3,000 NASA Workers

    [NATL] Government Shutdown Hits Over 3,000 NASA Workers
    The only NASA employees who will be working during the government shutdown are the few mission control workers who communicate with the astronauts currently deployed to the International Space Station. All others are furloughed indefinitely.
    (Published Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013)

    Get mail: Employees of the United States Postal Service are exempt from furloughs.

    Get your Social Security benefits: Payments will continue to be issued, and the Social Security Administration says they do not expect delays in payments.

    Apply for new Social Security and Medicare benefits: Local offices are open and processing new applications.

    Get a passport, probably: The Bureau of Consular Affairs is funded by fees rather than appropriated funds, so it will continue to operate, a spokesperson told NBC Washington. However, some State Department passport offices are located in federal buildings that may have to shut down, so you should check to see if your preferred passport office is open before visiting.

    Sign up for healthcare exchanges: Despite the GOP's attempts to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, the plan is already funded, and online healthcare exchanges are scheduled to open Tuesday for uninsured Americans. (Read more.)

    Be protected by the U.S. military: All active-duty military personnel are exempt from furloughs, although they could stop receiving pay in mid-October. (They would be paid retroactively when the government reopens.)

    Obama: Military will be Paid Despite Shutdown

    [AP] Obama: Military will be Paid Despite Shutdown
    President Obama sent a video message to members of the US military as the partial government shutdown took effect. He said those in uniform will remain on normal duty status, and will get paid on time.
    (Published Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013)

    Ride Amtrak: While Amtrak receives federal subsidies, it's organized as a corporation and collects enough revenue in ticket fees to outlast a brief shutdown.

    Travel by air: Federal air traffic controllers and most TSA agents would continue showing up to work, although you may find some longer lines at security checkpoints.

    Apply for a new patent: The U.S Patent Office is funded for the next four weeks, which should be enough to outlast any government shutdown.

    Safely eat meat: Meat inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will continue to report to work because they're essential for public safety.

    Learn about the unemployment rate:
    The September jobs report will be released Friday.

    Get an unemployment check: Checks will still be sent out, although some payments may be delayed due to a reduction in workforce.

    Get food stamps: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will continue to be distributed.

    Pay taxes: All tax payments will continue to be processed. Note that millions of taxpayers have requested 6-month extensions on their 2012 tax filings, and that the deadline for that is Oct. 15. That deadline is not expected to change.

    Get weather warnings and watches: All National Weather Service offices will be open and will continue to provide forecasts and severe weather alerts.

    During a shutdown, you can't:

    Get a new small business loan: Existing loans would be honored, but new applications would not be accepted.

    Go to the Smithsonian or National Zoo: About 90 percent of the museums' 6,400 workers will be furloughed, with all museums and the zoo to be closed. The animals will still get fed, but visitors won't be around to see that.

    Camp in a national park: All national parks -- from Yosemite to Acadia -- will close, and day visitors will have to leave immediately. (But longer-term campers already in parks will have two days to leave.)

    Visit a Civil War battlefield: Like national parks, historic battlefields will be closed.

    Watch the National Zoo's Panda Cam: We know -- in the event of a government shutdown, there are more important things for many people to worry about. But Washington, D.C.'s first panda cub in years was a cause for celebration around the region, and huge numbers of fans have flocked to the Panda Cam since the cub's birth in August.

    Visit the Capitol: While the Capitol will remain open for congressional matters, it will be closed to visitors.

    Check the legal work status of an employee: The E-Verify system allows employers across the country to check on immigration status, but it's a federal website, which means it would be shut down.

    Continue to be audited: The IRS will suspend audit activities. (They will begin again as soon as the government shutdown is over.)