If the federal government shuts down on Saturday, November 18, numerous publicly funded agencies will cease operations and their employees will not be paid, but Social Security checks will continue to go out.

Social Security is considered a mandatory program and is not funded by short-term appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the president. That means your operations and financing don’t stop when the government shuts down.

This is important for a large proportion of Americans, since about 67 million people receive monthly Social Security benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. Those benefits go primarily to retirees but also to people with disabilities, as well as dependents of deceased beneficiaries.

Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits also continue to be distributed during the shutdown.

The federal government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday if Congress does not pass a bill to provide more funding. The Republican Party has a narrow majority in the House, and a group of hardline conservatives are resisting the rest of the Republicans and demanding deep cuts in public spending.

President Joe Biden and Democrats, who control the Senate, oppose those cuts.

In the event of a shutdown, “non-essential” actions would cease and 4 million federal employees would not receive their paychecks.

Some, including members of the military, would work without pay and receive back pay later, once a new funding bill is passed and signed into law. Other federal employees would be suspended and not report to work.

And a shutdown would cripple many other federal programs and services. The Biden administration said in September, when a shutdown seemed likely, that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, would stop operating a day or two after the shutdown. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said some states could keep their programs running a little longer.

WIC is a program intended to help low-income pregnant and postpartum women, as well as children under age 5, access healthier foods. According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 6 million people received WIC benefits each month in 2022, including about 39% of all American babies.

A prolonged shutdown could also hurt the economy. The longest shutdown lasted 35 days, from December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019, and the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it cost the US economy at least $11 billion directly, with indirect costs that were more difficult to quantify.

A government shutdown should not be confused with an impasse over the debt ceiling. The United States reached its borrowing limit, called the debt ceiling, earlier this year. That standoff could have prevented Social Security checks from being sent if it had lasted long enough, but after a prolonged impasse, Republicans and Democrats in Congress reached an agreement to avoid it.