Five Government Shutdown Questions

Well, we still don’t know if a government shutdown will happen, but you know that I like to be prepared.  Several questions keep coming up over and over again, so I thought that would address them here:

When Might Military Pay Be Delayed?

Updated 1 October 2013:  Bill protecting military pay is signed into law.  It only covers budget issues, not debt ceiling issues.

This is a tricky question.  If we don’t get a budget, or a continuing resolution, the 15 October 2013 paycheck could be affected.

However, if we are dealing with a debt ceiling issue, the details become less clear.  There are a variety of scenarios about how the Treasury could choose to pay its bills, and a date for pay delay depends on which plan the Treasury chooses to use.  At this time, if a budget or continuing resolution is passed, and we are dealing with a debt ceiling issue alone, it is looking like it would be at least the 1 November 2013 paycheck before any possible delay might take place.

Will The Commissaries Close?

Updated 28 September 2013:  The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has announced that commissary stores in the US will close in the event of a government shutdown.  Stores would be open on 1 October 2013 to sell off perishable goods.  All overseas stores will remain open.

Big question, small answer:  Maybe.  Or even probably.  Officials at my local Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) store tell me that they have no information.  The DeCA website doesn’t mention a potential government shutdown at all.  However, this is pretty typical.  

Will My Allotments Still Be Paid?

Allotments can be so confusing.  It helps a lot to understand how allotments work if you keep in mind that the military works on a monthly pay schedule.  Everything is calculated monthly:  pay, allowances, taxes, deductions.  The mid-month pay is just an advance of half the estimate for the entire month.  As a result, 1 October 2013 allotments are definitely safe.  1 November 2013 allotments would only be jeopardized if pay were stopped sometime in October and not restarted before 1 November.  Same for November, and so on.

If, at any point, pay is delayed, the allotment would get caught up when back pay was issued.  Therefore, you’ll only have a problem if pay stop and remains stopped over the 1st of a month.  Does that make sense?

What About DoDEA Schools?

Updated 30 September 2013:  The Department of Defense Educational Activity has announced that schools will continue to operate as usual.  Employees who work at headquarters and area offices may be furloughed.

As usual, DoDEA is being super-quiet.  If the 2011 shutdown scare is an indication, DoDEA schools would probably be deemed essential and continue to function.

What About Schedule Bank Debits?

Lots of us pay our bills via electronic funds transfer (EFT).  For example, my car insurance is automatically deducted from our paycheck once each month.  If military pay is delayed for any reason, you either need to make sure that you have enough money to pay the schedule bills OR you need to cancel those debits.  I recommend you contact your banks now to learn how early you would need to cancel a debit order.  Most banks need a few days to process a change like that.  You will be much happier if you know the procedure and rules now, rather than wait until you are in a pinch.

Keep your questions coming, and I’ll answer them (to the best of my ability) in a future post.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Shannon

    Is VA benefits effected as well?

  • Jolene

    What about bonus pay? He’s deployed, so the bonus is supposed to come all at once sometime in the first two weeks of Oct. Will it be delayed until November?

  • John
  • Thomas

    If the Government shutdown happens and military families are not paid. Many families mine included will have extra finance charges and fees not normally incurred. Does the government plan on paying these fees for us?

  • All,

    There has been 18 Government Shutdowns in the past. During these shutdowns, the Military has always been paid and paid on time.


    • vicki
      • vicki,

        Yes, during all of those 18 past Government Shutdown, the soldiers have always been paid and on time I might add.

        If for any reason this time it doesn’t work out this way, you might want to take a look at this link. Many Banks and Credit Unions will lone you the amount of pay you would have gotten, INTEREST FREE. In this situation, the banks and credit unions are the good guys.


  • Christopher R Carona
  • All,

    House and Senate passed a bill to pay the Military.

  • Spc Jonathon Clark

    Was wondering about Wells Fargo

    • Spc Jonathon Clark,

      Not sure, just send an email or call them tomorrow.


  • For everyone’s info,

    For your info.

    House Bill Protects Mil Pay Even With Shutdown
    Sep 29, 2013| by Bryant Jordan

    Senate Passes Bill to Pay Military in Shutdown
    Sep 30, 2013| by Bryant Jordan

    H.R.3210 — Pay Our Military Act (Engrossed in House [Passed House] – EH)

  • Jessica

    Will I still be able to PCS during the shutdown?

    • KateKashman

      Jessica, according to Vice Adm. Bill Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, only very specific types of PCS moves will be approved during a government shutdown. These include separation moves, movements to excepted activities, movements from an excepted activity that is overburdened, and movements that are involved with recruitment, initial training, and first duty stations. I imagine that the guidelines for the other services are very similar. Hope that helps!

      • Christopher R Carona
      • Jen

        My husband is going drill (army) and I am trying to find out if that is one of the excepted activities. Hoping so, this shutdown already cost us the house we planned on renting…

  • Jessica
  • Erin

    Does anyone know about military bonus installments that normally get paid in October… We are expecting ours today and I’m wondering if we should be waiting around wondering…

    • KateKashman

      Erin, bonus installment payments are supposed to be paid on time, subject to availability of funds from the treasury. I\’m thinking that yours has already shown up. Let us know!

  • Danielle

    I am wondering the same. Are bonus payments affected?

  • Daniela
  • cathy

    does anyone know if Social Security checks will be available this month? unable to get an answer by phone

  • Jakob

    Will MEPs still be operational? In other words, can people still join the military?

  • F-Deezy

    I am still waiting on my separation paycheck when i separated 20 September…its supposed to take 10 days, but then the shutdown happened. Is the payment of this affected?

  • Jonathan
  • Stuck in the USA

    We are in a similar position. My husband went to Belgium PCS (civilian) on Sept 23. We delayed the household goods shipment and non temp storage until he was able to identify a place to live. Now, we are being told that we have to wait until the shutdown is over to complete the shipment. We run the risk of losing our tenants if we cannot ship on time. Any suggestions?