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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Information Alert: How the Government Shutdown Is Affecting the Independent Living Community

By Ashton Rosin, NCIL Policy Intern

Ensuring that the government shutdown does not further impede upon the lives of people with disabilities across the country is of the utmost importance to NCIL. As the government shutdown enters its second week, it is necessary to address the specific effects of the situation on Americans with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living, and Statewide Independent Living Councils across the nation.

Most widely-used benefit programs like Social Security and Medicaid will continue to run during the shutdown. However, as the shutdown continues, NCIL is concerned that the long-term effects will be worse. The more prolonged the situation is, the more people with disabilities will be affected, even if they are not directly feeling the effects of the shutdown right now. It is in the interest the entire Independent Living community across the country to be aware of the situation and the effects of the shutdown on our community.

NCIL emphasizes the importance of understanding how the gridlock in Congress could be affecting you. And we want to hear from you. We are asking you to send us your stories, your messages, and your voice. How has the government shutdown personally affected you, your family, and your CIL? NCIL is gathering these messages so that we can act by bringing together our voices and showing Washington how the disability community has been uniquely hurt and how the government shutdown has damaged people’s lives. If the government shutdown persists, NCIL fears additional and more severe consequences that directly impact people with disabilities. It is clear that the longer the shutdown lasts, along with the looming debt ceiling crisis, the more precarious of a position we will all be in. NCIL encourages our members to be aware and speak up!

Each federal program is affected differently. Part C funding for Centers for Independent Living has already been appropriated for the 2014 fiscal year, which will expire on September 30th, 2014. The shutdown will not directly affect Part C funding for CILs. However, Part B funding has been affected. Many CILs and Statewide Independent Living Councils funded with Part B will see these effects. Some SILCs are not currently operational, thus demonstrating NCIL’s concern over the government’s shutdown and its effects on Independent Living in this country. 

Services like Medicare and Medicaid will continue during the shutdown because these programs are funded by sources that do not rely on annual spending laws in Congress. Advance appropriation of these programs ensured that states received funding on October 1st, despite the government shutdown. Therefore people with disabilities should see less impact in terms of these services. A long term shutdown, one that exceeds a month, could cause more complicated problems as reimbursements to doctors and hospitals could be delayed.

Like Medicare, Social Security benefits would continue to be distributed for those receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. However, there may be delays in processing new disability applications for Social Security and Medicare, as offices are only open to perform certain services. Services like replacing lost Social Security cards, generating proof of income letters, and assistance for disability hearings will not be possible during the shutdown. Furthermore, the shutdown will not affect the launch of the Affordable Care Act, the federally-run insurance program that went into effect in over 30 states on October 1st.

We are urging you to contact NCIL to share your voice. Tell us how the government shutdown has negatively affected your life so we can demonstrate the damaging effects of the shutdown on the disability community. We want to know how you have been impacted so we can come together to demonstrate the power of the Independent Living community and illuminate our voices in Washington.

Please contact Ashton at ashton@ncil.org to share your story about how the government shutdown has impeded your life, the lives of your family and friends, and your CIL or SILC.

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