social security

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For many newly married couples, it’s not unusual to apply to the state and federal government to get their new last names.

But for Art Bristol and Corey Ledin, whose newly minted marriage license declares their last names as Ledin-Brisol, the process was far from usual.

TV cameras were watching and photographers snapped pictures. The secretary of state's office wouldn't even accept the same-sex couple's paperwork for a new driver’s license.

Doug Mills / Twitter

The shutdown of the federal government is here. Now what?

We'll keep tabs on the people, programs, and places being affected by the shutdown on this post. Drop us a note below if you're affected by the shutdown or if you know of a program that we haven't mentioned.

If you've sat this story out, and need some "Shutdown 101," the Washington Post's WonkBlog has "Absolutely everything you need to know about how the government shutdown will work." That should about cover it.

*We will update this post as we learn more information

The shutdown shakes things out into two silos.

  1. "Essential" services/personnel, and
  2. "Non-essential" services/personnel.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A number of federal employees took part in protests in six Michigan cities Wednesday afternoon. The events were part of a national campaign opposing sequestration, the automatic spending cuts to the federal budget that are already taking effect.

Kyle Austin has been working at the social security administration in Grand Rapids for 35 years. He admits, not everyone knows or necessarily seems to care about sequestration.

“It worries me because we’re the front line people. We see these people. Congress doesn’t,” Austin said.

Opponents of proposals for major changes to Medicare spent today making the rounds of retirement communities in Michigan.

They denounced the budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.  Under the Republican budget plan, future retirees would get a stipend to buy health insurance.   Its an approach Republicans say would hold down costs and begin to rein in the deficit.

Max Richtman  is the president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.   He says House Republicans want to do away with what’s left of the ‘New Deal’.

Courtesy of the office of U.S. Senator Carl Levin

Senator Carl Levin says Congress needs to pass an extension of the payroll tax break that’s set to expire at the end of the month.   

Levin says the cut in the taxes collected to pay for Social Security saved the average worker about $1,000 in taxes during the past year.

“If we do not extend this payroll tax reduction," says Levin, "we’re going to find 160 million people with a tax increase on January 1.”   

Republicans are balking at extending the tax break. They want Democrats to agree to budget cuts to make up for the loss of money for the Social Security system.  

Democrats want to pay for the tax cut with a surcharge on the very wealthy.  

A final deal is not expected until next week.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) discussed the U.S. economy, health care reform, and the future of Social Security at a forum in Kalamazoo Monday.

Upton is one of twelve lawmakers selected to serve on a special Congressional committee. That committee will try to determine a compromise on long-term spending to help reduce the federal deficit.

Upton says the federal debt is “unsustainable”. He says the way to fix it is to get the economy moving so more people can get a job.

Officials with AARP Michigan are expecting to get a lot of telephone calls from concerned senior citizens, now with the president saying that their August Social Security checks might be delayed by federal budget talks. President Obama says without a budget deal the government may not send out social security, veterans and disability checks early next month.

Mark Hornbeck is the associate state director of AARP Michigan.    He says that could affect nearly 2 million Michiganders.

At Social Security Offices across the nation Wednesday workers stood outside and rallied against the looming government shutdown. Workers say House Republicans’ proposal to cut nearly $2 billion in SSA funding would lead to incredible delays for people in need.

Kathy Jackson works directly with individuals making Social Security claims. She says a shutdown could harm some of the nation’s most vulnerable people who aren’t able to manage delay’s as well as others.   

“If you’re shut down for even two days, people have deadlines that they have to meet. The problem is a lot of our clients are disabled so a wait for them is not the same for you or I.”

Jackson says if people aren’t able to meet certain filing deadlines they can lose their eligibility for healthcare and housing programs that elderly, veterans, and disabled people need to survive. She says if people miss their chance because of a shutdown, they could be forced to start the process over.

Kenn Keillor  is president of the Grand Rapids local AFGE union. He says the House Republican’s proposal would mean a loss of 200-thousand jobs that both workers and people receiving services rely on.

 "I’m a lot more effective inside doing my job than I am sitting at home drawing unemployment. If you don’t want welfare, then you’ve got to pay workers enough to raise their families. It’s not going to help anybody if we’re sent home on Monday.”

Keillor says federal employees across the country plan to head to work Monday morning whether there is a shutdown or not. The AFGE union covers workers with the Social Security Administration, Veteran’s Administration, Department of Defense and more than 30 other employee groups.