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How the shutdown will affect you

Campgrounds at national parks will be cleared of visitors. Social Security applications could go slower. Passports will mostly not be issued. A federal shutdown will inconvenience everyone from campers at the Everglades to travelers needing passports. Here's a look at the effects of a stoppage:

Social Security

Social Security offices will be open, and benefits will continue to be sent. No furloughs at local offices are expected. However, applicants need to be ready for delays processing requests and other changes Monday morning. According to shutdown plans, replacement cards will not be issued, benefit verification will not be done, and information requests won't be filled. "What I am going to do? I can't work because I am disabled, so Social Security would be my only income," Ray Bonnelli, 64, said Friday at the agency office in New Port Richey.

Veterans services

Department of Veterans Affairs officials said Friday their services will not be immediately affected. All medical care and appointments at Tampa Bay-area VA facilities, including the Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa and the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg, will go on as scheduled for enrolled veterans. The agency says it will provide "100 percent of our health care services." Benefits checks will not be delayed in the short term. Nearly 80 percent of the VA's budget is appropriated in advance on a two-year cycle, lessening any shutdown impact. VA officials could not say how a prolonged shutdown might affect veterans. Information: www.va.gov.

Federal parks and wildlife refuges

All sites were to close after midnight Friday, including the refuge at Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay. The ferry service to the state park there is expected to continue. Campers at national parks will be ordered to leave.

Taxes

Tax returns still have to be postmarked April 18. Paper returns will not be processed, but electronic tax returns could still be issued. The bummer: The IRS will still cash payment checks.

Jobs

A government shutdown would affect tens of thousands of federal employees in Florida. There are 132,600 workers in various offices across the state, according to figures from the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Many could face furloughs during a shutdown. Members of the military would face having their paychecks held up but would get the money eventually.

Passports

Passport and visas will not be issued except for emergencies, although the State Department will continue to provide travel advisories. A handful of University of South Florida students may miss the opportunity to study abroad because of the shutdown, said Amanda Maurer, the school's director of education abroad. At least one student awaiting a passport for a trip to India in May almost certainly will be affected, she said. The longer a shutdown lasts, the more students and programs will be affected. USF advised staff to continue government-funded research, although grants and contracts paid with invoices may be hindered. New research requests could be delayed. "For the students, it's really stressful," Maurer said. "It may delay buying a plane ticket, and with the gas prices increasing, you want to strike as soon as possible. And if not, you have to get big travel cancellation insurance."

U.S. Postal Service

Mail will be delivered. Passport applications at post offices will not be processed.

Shuttle mission

A shutdown of a week or less shouldn't affect the planned April 29 flight of Endeavour. But the space agency will need to furlough as many as 18,500 of its 19,000 civil service employees. Agency heads or workers assigned to tasks, such as mission control, that are directly responsible for oversight of astronauts aboard the International Space Station or ongoing missions will continue to work.

Times staff writers William R. Levesque, Alex Leary, Jack Nicas and Jacqueline Baylon contributed to this report, which also includes information from the Associated Press.

How the shutdown will affect you 04/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 10:25pm]

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