Government shutdown and how it impacts programs locally

CalFresh issued most card holders their February benefits earlier on Jan. 15. (Photo by Elizabeth Enriquez-Phillips)

COUNTY — As the government shutdown looms into its fourth week many aspects of the local and state government are starting to feel its effect. Here is the current breakdown of the programs that may have been impacted and their effect on our communities and residents.

CalFresh
Locally the county Department of Social Services issued the month of February CalFresh benefits early. Calfresh is the food assistance program funded through the Federal SNAP programs because of the shutdown many people who rely on CalFresh were uneasy on where their food benefits would come through. So far the county did a special process on Jan. 14 to have the February CalFresh benefits issued. Most families and individuals should have seen it on their Benefits cards by Jan. 15. If you did not receive it in the early batch, you should receive it on your next regular issuance date in February if federal funds are available.
The county is asking families to check their EBT card balance by using the MyBenefits CalWIN app online at www.mybenefitscalwin.org or contacting EBT customer service at 1-877-328-9677. If they did receive their February amount to budget accordingly since no additional funds will be issued in February.
Currently, the State of California is waiting on the federal government regarding March benefits if the shutdown continues. More information will be made available as it becomes available.
New CalFresh applications will still be accepted and processed.
If the public has questions, they need to contact their local County of San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services offices located in Atascadero at 9415 El Camino Real 805-461-6000 or in Paso Robles at 406 Spring Street 805-237-3110. You can also visit them online at www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/Social-Services.
 
WIC
According to the California Department of Health, California Women’s Infant and Children Program (WIC) will still be open during the federal shutdown and stores will continue to accept WIC checks.
WIC serves babies and children up to age 5, pregnant women, and new mothers. Dads, grandparents, foster parents of young children and working families are also assisted by WIC. WIC helps families by providing vouchers for healthy foods, nutrition education and support and referrals to healthcare and other community services.
Contact your local WIC office for hours and appointments. In Atascadero call them at 805-781-5570 and they are located at 5575 Hospital Dr. In Paso Robles call 805-781-5570 and they are located at 723 Walnut Dr.

TSA
TSA is still having employees man security checkpoints at Airports but is recommending people to go to the airport two to three hours ahead to prepare for long lines.
Locally, IdentoGO, an official partner of the Transportation Security Administration, who will be onsite at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1 will help travelers register for the TSA Precheck (TSA Pre√) program which is an expedited security screening program. It allows participants to keep on light jackets, shoes, and belts during the airport security process, as well as to keep their laptops and compliant liquids in their bag.
IdentoGO’s mobile enrollment RV will be in the airport parking lot screening attendees.
To enroll, attendees must bring a government-issued photo ID with proof of U.S. Citizenship (i.e., a passport or birth certificate — names on documents must match exactly) and complete a 10-minute fingerprinting process. TSA Pre√ memberships are valid at airports across the country.
For more information, or to book an appointment, visit universalenroll.dhs.gov and select San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport as your location.

Social Security
According to the Social Security Administration, their offices are open but they do recommend doing business online at www.ssa.gov. Wait times may be increased but they are able to help.
Social Security benefits are funded through September 2019, so services will remain in effect and benefits will continue to arrive on time, according to the Social Security Administration.

IRS
Announced earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service will be bringing back 46,000 of its furloughed employees to work, though unpaid per a statement from the Treasury Department on Jan. 15. The employees need to be able to process tax returns and refunds since the tax season begins on Jan. 28.
Audits and other assistance will not be available during the shutdown period. For more information, visit www.irs.gov.

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