Military Members may not get a Paycheck in October

Written by: Erin Beene, Northern Sentry

It has been looming. The possible threat of a government shutdown is an ultimatum that gets more serious with each passing day. Congress’s inability to finalize a budget by the end of September may thrust the federal government again into a position where no budget has been agreed upon, therefore many employees of U.S government cannot work or get paid. Those in the Armed Forces may be particularly worried about this possibility as they figure out how to care for their families without a paycheck.

This shutdown can mean a lot of things for various positions within the government. Some federal employees will still work, some will not. But until Congress can come to budget agreements, no one is getting paid.

According to airandspaceforces.com, “[military] will not be paid on schedule unless some legislation is passed that continues to pay troops, as has been the case in the past. And service members would have to cover some work that is normally done by furloughed civilian workers.”

Military members usually receive net pay in bi-monthly allotments, on the 1st & 15th of each month. The October 1st payments have been processed from the last fiscal year’s budget, but the October mid-month pay, on the 15th, is where the problems may start to unravel. Lawmakers have until midnight on October 1st to reach an agreement or the government will officially be in shut-down mode, so there is still time to hope. But what happens if they do not reach an agreement?

A large majority of the members and families in the Armed Forces bank with military-friendly banks. The top two most popular are USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union. While both banks are prepared to give help to their military clients, you may be surprised by what exactly they plan to do.

In years passed, when government shutdowns have come about, USAA generously went ahead and paid all their members the usual pay from USAA’s own pockets. They did this in good faith that they would be reimbursed from the government when it got back up and running, which is assumed to have happened. This payment allowed the federal government USAA members to still receive a paycheck. This time, however, USAA has changed their tune. While still planning to help their banking members, they won’t be giving automatic payments. Instead, they plan to offer a loan program. Their website states, “USAA members who are employed by an impacted federal agency and likely to experience paycheck disruption will be eligible to apply for a no-interest loan equal to the amount of one net paycheck, up to $6,000. Eligible members will also be offered a variety of payment assistance options across USAA banking products as well as special payment arrangements for USAA insurance products.” After speaking with a bank representative, they said the link to apply for the loan will activate on their website when/if the government does officially shut down.

According to their press release on September 26th, “Navy Federal Credit Union announced today it is offering a paycheck assistance program, providing an advance on direct deposit for eligible members impacted in the event of a government shutdown. This program is available for all Active Duty servicemembers, Federal government employees and contractors who are paid directly by the Federal government whose pay will be affected by the shutdown, and have direct deposit set up with Navy Federal for their paycheck. Navy Federal will continue to accept registration for the program until 3 business days after the scheduled payday.” No more information is available, but it appears Navy Federal members can register for this program in the event of the shutdown.

Other implications will undoubtedly arise from the shutdown such as loss of base amenities, functions and facilities that are run by federal employees. While no official statement has been released, a high-ranking member of the base has assured the public that the mission of Minot AFB in both wings will continue. Active Duty military members will still report to work and serve their duty.

Even though it is not upon us yet, please take time to plan for what a month without pay would look like for you and your family and what steps you may need to take to secure basic necessities. Additionally, for more information about how the shutdown may affect individuals, please reach out to your chain of command or Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs.

In the event of deferred paychecks due to the government shut-down, backpay should be reimbursed once a federal budget has been decided on.

Several organizations have offered relief plans for military members and families who may face difficult times due to the shutdown. Air Force Aid Society offers some monetary assistance for those who may need immediate help with food, gas or bills.

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