On March 1, the so-called "sequester" kicked in. This term refers to the $85 billion reduction in federal spending that was mandated to occur if Congress and the President were unable to agree on a budget. Not surprisingly, there was no budget agreement, so the cutting officially began.
Bad news for many
What does this mean for you? Like so many other things, it depends. If you are a federal employee, there's a good chance that you will be furloughed and your salary reduced as a result. If you travel by air frequently, you should expect longer lines at security because there will be fewer TSA agents. If you want to take your camping vacation at a national park, call ahead before you go, as some parks may close.
If you work in the defense industry, expect layoffs as the military cuts back on buying new equipment. If your children participate in Head Start, expect changes and closures as teachers are laid off. If you are planning on getting federal student loans to go to college, be prepared for less money than you expected. If you are a doctor who serves Medicare patients, your payments from the government will be cut by two percent. And the list goes on.
Good news for those receiving SSD benefits
There is some good news. If you receive Social Security Disability (SSD), SSI, retirement or VA benefits, your monthly checks will not change. Payments to seniors and the disabled are exempt from the budget cuts. However, don't expect the Social Security Administration operations to look the same.
Employee furloughs mean that people will have to wait longer for service at regional offices. Service hours may be reduced. Some offices could close completely. People who call the Social Security hotline would be kept on hold longer.
Bad news for those applying for benefits
The news that your SSD benefit will not changed is offset by increasingly difficulty in obtaining those benefits in the first place. The "sequester" will cause the large backlog of disability claims to become even larger with fewer staff to deal with them.
The challenges of applying for and receiving SSD benefits will become even greater in the months and years ahead. That's why it is critical to get help from the disability advocates at Binder & Binder®. Do what hundreds of thousands of others have done - call them, tell them your story, and find out how they can help you navigate the increasingly complex maze that is the Social Security Administration.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, 'What the 'sequester' means for you ... and what won't change," by Mark Trumbull, Mar. 1, 2013.