Government Shutdown Resources

As the government shutdown of continues, over 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay. This lapse in pay can have significant negative impacts like missing mortgage or rent payments, inability to cover healthcare, childcare, utility or food costs, and covering basic day-to-day expenses.  Please don’t hesitate to contact my office by phone  at 808-541-1986 and remember to contact federal agencies directly regarding specific issues.

I am working hard to re-open the government for the people. While the partial shutdown unfortunately continues, below is a list of resources and frequently asked questions on the following subjects:

 Airport and travel

 Medicare

 EEOC claims

 National parks and monuments 

 E-Verify

 New Home Purchases

 Federal Courts

 Passports

 Federal Employee Unemployment  

 Postal Mail Delivery

 Federal Employment Pay

 Schools

 Federal Grants

 Small Business Loans

 Federal Retirees

 Social Security Payments

 Food Assistance

 Tax assistance

 Global Consular Services

 Unemployment

 Government Contractors

 Utilities

 Home Foreclosure

 Veterans/Military Healthcare

 Immigration Services

 Veterans Benefits

Will federal employees receive pay for furloughed days?

  • Yes. The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act was signed into law on January 16, 2019, that will provide retroactive pay for Federal employees affected by this government shutdown, as soon as possible after the lapse in appropriations ends, regardless of scheduled pay dates.
  • When the full government operations recommence, federal employees should also look to OPM and agency guidelines for answers to this question.
  • Federal employees may send a letter to their creditors or mortgage lenders explaining their lapse of pay once they have already explained the situation over the phone. Sample letters from the Office of Personnel Management can be found here: https://t.co/t6h6OzALsS.

I am a federal employee.  Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

  • Possibly. Federal employees may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE).  States contribute to UFCE under the same terms and conditions as regular state unemployment compensation.  Please contact the State of Hawaii’s Unemployment division regarding your eligibility for UCFE here. The application is available here.
  • OPM provides unemployment insurance guidance, and additional information Hawaii’s re-employment services can be found here.

I am a government contractor.  What should I expect?

  • This is unclear.  If you are a government contractor, you should discuss with your company’s management how their contract is structured.  The fate of a government contractor depends largely on the agency with which their company contracts.
  • Today, there are many contractors and different types of contract agreements. Unfortunately, in many previous shutdowns, contractors did not receive compensation through retroactive legislation.
  • More information about Hawaii’s re-employment services can be found here.

Will unemployment benefits continue during a federal government shutdown?

  • Yes.  Unemployment compensation is a federal-state program administered by state agencies.  During a short-term, federal government shutdown, there should not be an interruption of benefits; however, there might be a delay in processing new applications.  Check with the State of Hawaii’s Unemployment Division for information about specific concerns.

Will I receive my Social Security payments?

  • Yes.  The Social Security Administration will continue to process and mail checks.  Congress already funded the agency for fiscal year 2019.
  • Individuals should check Social Security Online Services for updates.

Will veterans and military hospitals continue to operate?

  • Yes.  VA hospitals will remain open.
  • Similarly, the Military Health System (MHS) will continue to operate, as will the private sector under TRICARE. Patients should contact their hospitals or clinics to confirm appointments.  There may be delays scheduling new appointments.

I am a veteran and/or military retiree.  Will I receive my pension?

  • If you are a USCG Retiree, there will be a lapse in pension payments starting Feb. 1.
  • All other military retirees will continue to receive pension payments.

I am a disabled veteran.  Will I receive my benefits on time?

  • Yes.  Congress fully funded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2019.

I receive Veterans Affairs (VA) life insurance payments.  Can I expect to receive my VA life insurance payments on time?

  • Yes.  Congress fully funded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2019.

I am a veteran student who receives benefits under the GI Bill or the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP).  Will I continue to receive payments on time?

  • Yes.  Congress fully funded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2019.

I am a veteran currently awaiting a VA home loan.  Can I expect any delays?

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs is operational, but there are reports of minor delays in receiving discharge documentation necessary to process loan applications.  
  • The VA Home Loan hotline number is 1-888-768-2132.

I am on Medicare.  Will I still be able to see my doctor?

  • Yes, existing Medicare patients can still see their healthcare providers, and those providers will continue to submit bills and receive payment for their services.

What will happen to my utilities?

Hawaiian Electric:

If you need assistance with a payment arrangement, please call 548-7311. Their customer service representatives can offer these options, depending on your situation:

  • Payment extensions
  • Special payment plans for monthly installments
  • Temporary suspension of collection notices and orders
  • Waiver of late payment fees

Contact Information:

Is financial relief available?

Banks and Credit Unions: Banks and credit unions in Hawaii are offering varied assistance to affected federal employees.   

  • Banks: The following banks in Hawaii are offering relief to impacted federal employees.
  • Credit Unions: Hawaii Credit Union League Resources. Hawaii credit unions have implemented assistance programs to help members who have been affected by the government shutdown. Please use this link to find what resources your credit union may be offering.

I rely on food assistance programs to feed my family.  What should I expect?

  • In the short-term, the following programs will continue operations, but the situation may change depending on the length of the shutdown:
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will continue operations and eligible households will still receive monthly benefits at least into February.
  • The Child Nutrition (CN) Programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations at least until February.
  • Here is additional information courtesy of the Hawaii Food Industry Association (HFIA):  Food Assistance Information.

Emergency food assistance is being offered throughout the state to affected workers.

Community Food Resources for Families: Please use the links below.

What about my Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim?

  • During a federal government shutdown, the EEOC staff will not answer questions or respond to correspondence. Mediations and public events will be cancelled.  
  • EEOC litigation will be suspended unless needed on an emergency basis or if a continuance has not been granted by the court.  Unfortunately, it is not known whether the courts will grant these requests.
  • Federal sector hearings will be cancelled, and federal employee appeals of discrimination complaints will not be decided.
  • Petitioners must file charges within requisite deadlines; however, investigations will not resume until the federal government reopens.  You should keep copies of all submitted paperwork and ensure delivery receipt.
    • The address for the Tampa Office is 501 Polk St, #1000, Tampa, FL 33602
    • Once the government re-opens, phone service will resume:
      • (VOICE) 1-800-669-4000 or 404-562-6909/6966
      • (TTY) 1-800-669-6820
      • (ASL Video Phone) 1-844-234-5122
    • To inquire about the status of an existing charge, you may email info@eeoc.gov, but there is no definitive response timeline.

I am a federal government retiree.  Will I receive my pension?

  • Yes. According to Office of Personnel Management, federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will continue to receive their scheduled annuity payments on the first business day of the month.
  • Effective on January 1, 1987, FERS includes most federal employees; the CSRS system generally covers federal workers hired before 1984.

Will my mail delivery continue?

  • Yes. The U.S. Postal Service is self-funded, and 500,000 employees will continue to deliver mail.

I am applying for a federal grant.  Do I need to meet the deadline?

  • Yes. You should always submit your grant application ahead of the deadline.
  • Grants.gov is operational; however, there are may be limited staff available to provide assistance depending on the agency.
  • The Grants.gov Contact Center phone number is 1-800-518-GRANTS, and email is Support@Grants.gov.

Are federal courts still open?

  • Yes, but there may be limited operations. Federal courts have enough funding to operate through January 19, 2019.
  • This means, that unless otherwise advised, all proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, but you should check the local court or office for information specific to your needs.
  • Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) will remain in operation for the electronic filing of documents with courts.  
  • If the shutdown continues for an extended period, the federal judiciary system will reassess available funds and operations.  

I am a small business owner who is currently waiting an SBA loan from the Small Business Administration.  Will I still receive my loan on time?

  • The partial government shutdown affects the SBA.  Delays are possible, but you should immediately contact your lender.  If the SBA has already processed your loan guaranty your lender should be able to disburse your loan funds to you in a timely manner.  
  • Businesses are likely to face delays if the SBA has not yet processed their loan guaranty approval.  A shutdown will likely result in a suspension of many small business services support services; consequently, businesses seeking SBA loans should contact their lender immediately as SBA support services are likely to be suspended during a shutdown.  
  • A short-term government shutdown should not affect loans from the Office of Disaster Assistance.

I am facing foreclosure on an FHA-backed loan.  Does the clock stop?

  • No.  Most loss mitigation for homeowners facing foreclosure (including FHA loan modifications, FHA-HAMP, etc.) will continue.  You should contact your lender, who will make the decision about foreclosures.
  • For a variety of housing questions, the HUD/FHA Resource Center: (800) CALL-FHA (225-5342), and the HUD/FHA National Servicing Center: (877) 622-8525 will be available.

I am in the middle of buying a home.  What should I expect?

  • Unfortunately, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is included in the partial government shutdown, and you should contact your lender immediately.
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) urged mortgagees and lenders to be sensitive to approved borrowers, which includes requests for late fee waivers and the suspension of credit reporting on affected borrowers.
  • FHA may have staff reductions during the shutdown; as a result, there may be a delay processing FHA-insured loans.  The length of the shutdown will affect the severity of any delays.
  • HUD will have a limited number of employees to answer emergency questions during a shutdown and will not be able to answer case specific questions.  The HUD/ FHA Information Resources Center may be reached at (800) CALL-FHA (1-800-225-5342) or answers@hud.gov.
  • If you call or email field offices or headquarters’ staff, you may hear a voicemail or receive a return email indicating that the federal government is closed.
  • All HUD regional, field offices, and headquarters will be closed.  There will be exceptions for a limited range of activities.  The HUD public resource information line is 1-866-INFO HUD (1-866-463-6483).

I am planning to travel and need a passport.  What should I expect?

  • If you have a scheduled appointment at a U.S. Department of State passport agency or center, please plan on keeping your appointment.
  • If you need to cancel your appointment, you may do so by visiting the Online Passport Appointment System or by calling 1-877-487-2778.
  • If you have a scheduled appointment at a passport acceptance facility and need to cancel your appointment, please contact the facility directly.
  • Although the State Department operations may be closed, you should confirm your appointment since the shutdown might impact the facility housing a local passport agency.

I am a United States citizen living abroad.  Will the local United States embassy be open?

  • Yes.  United States embassies will remain open to some degree, but U.S. citizens living abroad should prepare for delays in any application or processing requests as staff furloughs may occur.
  • Please know that the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) uses fees to fund many operations and expects to continue with scheduled interviews and appointments.  Please call 1-800-375-5283 for additional information.

If I have an interview or appointment with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), should I attend?  Can I still apply for a visa?

  • Yes.  Although the Department of Homeland Security funding lapsed, USCIS is fee-funded, so it remains open and continues to process applications.  You should attend interviews and appointments as scheduled.  Please call 1-800-375-5283 for additional information.

Can I use e-Verify to check the status of a potential employee?  

  • No.  E-Verify is suspended during the shutdown.

What is happening at the airport?

  • Air travel and security operations are impacted by the shutdown, and travelers should arrive early for any departures and prepare for delays in clearing customs.
  • Air traffic controllers are working without pay, and the Federal Aviation Administration is asking furloughed aviation safety inspectors to resume their work.
  • All aviation security workers – air traffic controllers, animal and plant inspectors, aviation safety experts, Customs and Border Patrol officials, and Transportation Security Agency officers – are working without pay.
    • If you are an employee of the TSA, CBP or FAA – United Way Suncoast has set up a TPA Assistance Center, opening on Monday January 14, 2019 at the Police K-9 Training Facility where TSA, CBP and FAA employees can pick up essential food items and speak with crisis representatives about available community resources.

Can I apply for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

  • Online applications for TSA PreCheck are being accepted, but the Department of Homeland Security suspended Global Entry applications during the shutdown.

Will I still be able to visit the national parks and monuments?

  • Officials stated that the anticipated plan is to keep many national parks open for hiking, wildlife watching, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on a case-by-case basis.  Open-air parks and monuments in Washington, D.C. will be open, but indoor facilities like the, the Smithsonian Institutes are closed.
  • Unfortunately, campgrounds, concessions, and other services that require National Park Service staff will not be open.

What will happen to schools – including colleges and universities?

  • An extended shutdown could affect colleges, universities, school districts, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on federal funds to support key services and programs.  
  • Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans should continue as normal; however, students should contact their specific college or university with specific questions about federal financial aid – including pending awards for incoming students.

It is tax filing season; what should I do?

  • Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is affected.  An updated plan is in the works, but in the interim taxpayers may call 1-800-829-1040 for general information.

 

 

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