Possibility of a Government Shutdown Again Looms

The possibility of a government shutdown looms at the end of the week as Congress wrangles over the budget. Here is what it means for your pay and benefits.

The possibility of a partial government shutdown is again looming at the end of the week if Congress cannot agree on a spending bill.

Lawmakers hope to pass a two week extension that was put forth in the House over the weekend to buy more time to work out an agreement. Such a measure would extend government funding through December 22.

So the question for federal employees and retirees always becomes, “Will I get paid?”

Exempt Employees

Some federal employees are considered “excepted” (a.k.a. exempt) from a shutdown and therefore will still work and get paid, although the pay will likely come after the shutdown is resolved. OPM describes it this way:

The term “excepted” is used to refer to employees who are funded through annual appropriations who are nonetheless excepted from the furlough because they are performing work that, by law, may continue to be performed during a lapse in appropriations. Excepted employees include employees who are performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work.

Non-Exempt Employees

But employees who are neither “excepted” or “exempt” will be furloughed during a shutdown.

But will they still get paid? In the last shutdown in 2013, employees who were asked to stay home during the shutdown did ultimately receive backpay for the lost days. It is up to Congress to make this decision, however, but it is likely given the past precedent that these employees would be paid.

The delays in pay that came about as a result of the last shutdown served as a reminder for some federal employees to have an emergency savings plan to deal with not being paid for a short period of time. Even if most or all federal workers get paid after a shutdown, there is likely to be a dry spell from delayed paychecks.

Federal Retirees

Will federal retirees still receive their annuity payments if the government shuts down? Yes, according to the Office of Personnel Management:

Federal retirees under the CSRS and FERS retirement systems will still receive their scheduled annuity payments on the first business day of the month.


Federal employees and retirees will continue to receive their health benefits during a shutdown.

“The employee’s FEHB coverage will continue even if an agency does not make the premium payments on time. Since the employee will be in a non-pay status, the enrollee share of the FEHB premium will accumulate and be withheld from pay upon return to pay status,” according to OPM.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.