12-13-2017  8:56 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Special Call for Stories about the Spanish Flu

Genealogical Forum of Oregon seeks stories from the public about one of history's most lethal outbreaks ...

Joint Office of Homeless Services Announces Severe Weather Strategy

Those seeking shelter should call 211 or visit 211.org. Neighbors needed to volunteer, donate cold-weather apparel ...

Q&A with Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams

A conversation on diversity and the tech industry ...

City Announces Laura John as Tribal Liason

Laura John brings an extensive background in tribal advocacy and community engagement to the city of Portland ...

Humboldt Sewer Repair Project Update: Dec. 4

Environmental Services continues to repair more than 3 miles of public sewer pipes ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

The Skanner Editorial: Alabama Voters Must Reject Moore

Allegations of predatory behavior are troubling – and so is his resume ...

Payday Lenders Continue Attack on Consumer Protections

Charlene Crowell of the Center for Responsible Lending writes that two bills that favor predatory lenders has received bipartisan...

Hundreds Rallied for Meek Mill, but What About the Rest?

Lynette Monroe, a guest columnist for the NNPA Newswire, talks about Meek Mill, the shady judge that locked him up and mass...

Top 10 Holiday Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet

Dr. Jasmine Streeter explains why pampering pets with holiday treats can be dangerous (and pricey) ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Jeanne Sahadi CNN Money

Social Security cardNEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Many federal payments will be delayed indefinitely if the federal government shuts down next Monday night.

But it's very likely that the nearly 58 million people who receive Social Security benefits would still be paid on time, at least if the law and history are any guide.

For starters, funding for Social Security is considered "mandatory" and therefore not subject to the annual appropriations process.

Translation: The money that funds benefits is automatically authorized and not dependent on Congress coming to a compromise on a new federal spending measure by Monday night.

What isn't automatically authorized, however, is the money that Congress appropriates every year to run the Social Security Administration and pay its employees to process those benefits.

But even here, there's reason to believe the agency would be sufficiently staffed to ensure that Social Security payments don't get held up.

During the last two government shutdowns in the mid-1990s, Social Security checks were sent out on schedule.

That happened even though the Social Security Administration was grossly understaffed during the first -- and shorter -- of the two shutdowns. It had kept on just under 5,000 employees. Once it realized how many more were needed to carry out essential duties, the agency was quick to staff up.

So by the second shutdown, which lasted 21 days, the agency required the majority of its employees (55,992) to keep coming to work, furloughing just 10,203 workers.

Today most, if not all, Social Security benefits are paid by way of direct deposit or debit card. So it's fair to assume that making those payments is less labor intensive than it used to be when paper checks were mailed out.

It's not clear, though, if the Social Security Administration would retain enough staff during a shutdown to process without delay any new applications for benefits or other benefit-related activities.

Even though a relatively short shutdown may not imperil Social Security beneficiaries, the failure by lawmakers to raise the nation's borrowing limit could.

"The biggest risk to Social Security payments is the debt ceiling," said Charles Konigsberg, who was assistant director of the White House budget office during the last shutdown.

If the ceiling isn't raised, the Treasury Department will eventually run short of funds to pay all its bills.

That fight will likely come to a head between mid-October and mid-November.

 

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