Shutdown Affecting New Medicare & Social Security Applicants

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Fri, October 11 2013 at 6:18 PM, Updated: Fri, October 11 2013 at 6:40 PM

The government shutdown is still a reality and it's raising questions about social security and medicare benefits.

While those currently receiving Medicare and Social Security benefits are so far unaffected, one woman who works with Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) said new Medicare and Social Security applications will not be processed for the time being.

"The social security new applications have been stopped," began Conny Nichols who helps seniors sign up for Medicare.

"People will still receive their Social Security checks but no one new is being processed."

She said it's a result of the government shutdown. Many federal employees have been furloughed. It's not good for those people who might be relying on the money to get them through the near future.

"If someone expected their benefits to start November 1st and the application has not been worked then they might not a check in November and it may not be processed until December," said Nichols.

She said if they planned on a specific retirement date and are left without a job or pension, they would have relied on the social security check to live on. 

"Every application that's being stalled has an impact on someone. Someone who was relying on those benefits to happen at a certain time, and now were' not sure when those benefits will happen," Nichols said.

According to Nichols, it's much of the same story for new Medicare applicants.

"Medicare signup is through the Social Security office."

Nichols said this upcoming Tuesday, October 15th, is going to be difficult. It's when enrollment starts.

"It says due to the governemnt shutdown information on this website may not be up to date," read Nichols from the Medicare.gov website.

"Nothing is happening, no one is updating websites."

That means a whole lot of anxiety and uncertainty for her and the people she'll be helping on Tuesday as they try to sign up for much-needed Medicare coverage.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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