It’s clear that the federal government shutdown has been one of the biggest topics of discussion across the country. As policymakers continue to debate, the reality is that thousands of people are being affected. In fact, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shineski has indicated that veterans may not receive disability benefits for the month of November if the shutdown continues much longer.

Like many other federal agencies, the Department of Veterans Affairs is operating at a very minimal level. As at least 7,000 VA employees are furloughed, the disability claims backlog is growing and local VA offices are being temporarily closed.

The bigger problem, however, is that 3.8 million veterans may not be receiving disability benefits in November. Shineski indicated that if the shutdown persists into late October, the agency cannot guarantee payments will be administered. No matter how severe a veteran’s disability may be, he or she might not have access to financial support.

For veterans living in St. Louis, the shutdown could become more than just an inconvenience. This post isn’t intended to be a political statement. Instead, it’s an attempt to demonstrate the reality that many people are and could be up against.

One thing to keep in mind is that veterans aren’t precluded from seeking other forms of disability benefits just because they receive payments from the VA. As such, it may be helpful to look into the possibility of receiving Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Both programs have specific requirements for applicants, but they could provide the financial relief veterans need.

Source: The Washington Post, “Shinseki warns shutdown is harming veterans,” Steve Vogel, Oct. 9, 2013