Government Shutdown Will Delay Military Pay

Alicé Leuchte | September 26, 2013

There are rumblings on the internet concerning pay delays for federal employees and active duty military personnel in the event of a government shutdown. published a vague article on September 23 discussing potential pay delays, without fully exploring when such delays would be felt. The lack of detail in the article spurred comments from readers that the October 1 pay would indeed be distributed.

Pay set to hit service member bank accounts October 1 is already allotted and being processed.  So, if pay scheduled for October 1 were somehow delayed, this would mean the federal government stopped fulfilling their obligations to our military members before the pending shutdown on midnight September 30.  This shouldn’t be the case. thankfully followed up on the matter yesterday with more specific details, including:

Will servicemembers get paid?

Servicemembers will receive their Oct. 1 pay checks even if a shutdown occurs because the checks are issued on Sept. 30. Then it depends how long the shutdown lasts. Payments could be delayed, especially for those who receive mid-month pay checks, if the shutdown lasts for an extended period. The government must reopen by Oct. 9 in order for mid-month checks to be issued. Congress must provide funding in order for troops and federal workers to be paid.

The Navy Times has also published a short FAQ answering this question and other concerns relating to work schedule, travel and relocation, civilian pay, GI bill students, veteran benefits, and other essential services.

While active duty military and essential civilian workers would receive back pay for any time worked during a government shutdown, nonessential civilian workers would literally have to wait for an act of Congress. According to The Hill, Congress authorized back pay for civilians from previous shutdowns.

In order to avoid a shake-up for service members in the event of a shutdown, Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced a bill back in January that would ensure pay for military members, but it was killed in committee.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also suggested last Friday that the House should pass a similar measure.

The Washington Post has suggested Congress will not authorize back pay for federal employees this time around in their article entitled: “After past shutdowns, Congress gave federal workers back pay. This time? Don’t count on it.”

Despite their sensational title, within the actual article they say:

By law, they [federal employees] all must be paid. But the law does not say when… If a shutdown ends within their two-week pay cycle, their checks still would be delivered on time. If it drags on longer than two weeks, they would work without being paid for a time.

If you are a federal employee (civilian or otherwise), your branch or agency should be prepared to answer your questions in detail, and with better clarity.