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Veterans Law

Does a Government Shutdown Affect VA Disability Benefits?

Alyse Phillips

November 10, 2023

Updated: June 20, 2024

Does a Government Shutdown Affect VA Disability Benefits?

Government shutdowns have been increasingly common throughout recent history, leading many veterans to wonder how this affects VA benefits.  A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass, or the president refuses to sign, a spending bill to fund the federal government’s operations.  This causes a disruption to normal government functions.

Since VA benefits are federally funded, many Veterans may worry that a potential shutdown of the government could disrupt their VA disability benefits.  In short, a government shutdown will not disrupt a veteran’s VA benefits.  This article will explain further what veterans need to know about a government shutdown and their benefits.

Do VA Disability Benefits Stop During a Government Shutdown?

First, it is important to understand what a government shutdown is and how VA benefits are funded.

A government shutdown happens when funding cannot be secured for certain agencies and programs.  However, there are two types of funding the U.S. government employs: “mandatory funding” and “discretionary funding.”

There are two types of funding the U.S. Government employs: "Mandatory Funding" and "Discretionary Funding."

Mandatory funding is funding mandated by previous laws.  For example, the “Social Security Act” stipulates that the government must fund social security benefits based on how much a person earns, along with several other factors.  Each year, this funding must be approved because of prior commitments, i.e., it is mandatory for this spending to occur.

Discretionary funding, on the other hand, is funding that requires a formal approval by Congress and the President.  Most of this funding goes toward national defense.  The remaining funding goes toward other agencies and programs, such as science organizations or social service programs.

VA disability benefits fall under mandatory funding. This means that the U.S. government must continue to fund these benefits even during a shutdown.  Therefore, if you are receiving VA disability compensation, then you will not see a disruption in payments during a shutdown.

Will a Government Shutdown Affect Other VA Services?

While a government shutdown would not affect a veteran’s ability to receive disability payments or VA medical care, it does affect other VA services.

For example, VA outreach programs would stop, and VA public-facing regional offices would close.  Further, career counseling; transition assistance; and cemetery maintenance would halt.  Other services, such as the VBA Education Call Center, would also cease.

A government shutdown would not affect veteran burials; the BVA issuing decisions on veterans’ cases or the VBA; nor would it stop VA disability, pension, or education benefits.

Veterans could also be affected by a government shutdown due to delays in administrative duties in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the IRS.  This does not mean that these services would cease during a shutdown, but, due to a potential lack of staff, they may experience delays in certain areas.

What Actions Can Veterans Take?

Luckily, since VA disability benefits continue during a shutdown, veterans do not have to worry much.  However, it is advantageous to stay informed.  This includes keeping an eye on official VA announcements.

Planning ahead can also help veterans prepare for any potential shutdown.  While they will continue to receive disability benefits, other VA services they utilize may be impacted; so, it is vital to plan for any disruption in these services.

Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick

If you are a veteran and are appealing a denial of your VA disability benefits, then Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick may be able to help you.  Our team of accredited representatives at CCK have the experience necessary to assist you in this process.  Call us today at (800) 544-9144 for a free case evaluation.  You may also reach out to us via our online form.

About the Author

Bio photo of Alyse Phillips

Alyse is a Supervising Attorney at Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick. Since joining the firm in August of 2016, she has specialized in representing disabled veterans and their dependents before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Alyse