Government shutdown: How could you be affected?

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Guide to the shutdown

A look at which services will and will not be affected after Congress failed to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown. See gallery

The government shutdown will have far-reaching consequences for some but minimal impact on others. About 800,000 federal workers are being forced off the job.

Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue to flow. But vacationers will be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate-income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.

In this photo: Trays of printed Social Security checks wait to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury's Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia. Social Security and Medicare benefits will keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits should still go out.

Related: Budget showdown puts squeeze on US economy

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Mail delivery

Mail deliveries will continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations; it relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

In this photo: Mail carrier Mike Gillis delivers mail Dec. 6, 2011, in Montpelier, Vt.

Related: More would blamed GOP than Obama for shutdown

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Air travel

Federal air traffic controllers remain on the job and airport screeners will keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors will continue enforcing safety rules. The State Department continues processing of foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas continue to provide services to American citizens.

In this photo: Transportation and Security Adminstration (TSA) workers screen passengers at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport, Feb. 8, 2012.

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Health care

New patients should not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients will continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH will be disrupted and some studies delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.

In this photo: Nurse coordinator Lisa Chrisley, right, injects an experimental flu vaccine into the arm of volunteer Kwisa Kang of Mt. Washington, Md.

Related: Neither side giving in as government shutdown looms

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National parks

All national parks are closed, as is the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities were given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument.

In this photo: The Statue of Liberty in New York harbor

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NASA has workers on the job at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. But that means "fewer than 600 of NASA's 18,000 or so employees would likely keep working through a shutdown, with the aim of ensuring the safety of human life and the protection of property, according to a plan the space agency submitted ... to the Office of Management and Budget," according to

The National Weather Service is still forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center continues to track storms. But the scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey has been halted. 

In this photo:A model of a space shuttle sits on a console in the shuttle mission control center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

AP Photo: Ross D. Franklin, File
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Veteran services

Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans are still able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. But veterans appealing denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board will not issue any decisions during a shutdown.

In this photo: Ahead of a budget compromise that kept the federal government running, the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix let patients know that they would not be affected April 8, 2011.

Related: Who's right? Slippery claims on health law, budget

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U.S. military

The military's 1.4 million active-duty personnel remain on duty. But about half of the Defense Department's civilian employees have been furloughed. On Sept. 30, President Obama signed legislation ensuring that members of the military would get paid during a government shutdown.

In this photo: U.S. Marines salute during the playing of taps during a memorial service for Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard at a forward operating base with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 2nd MEB, 3rd MEF, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009.

Getty Images: Chip Somodevilla, File
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Federal courts

Federal courts continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.

In this photo: People stand in line outside U.S. Supreme Court for a chance to hear oral arguments in the case Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council et al. March 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

 Related: A look at government shutdowns through history

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All 116 federal prisons remain open, and criminal litigation proceeds.

In this photo:A cell at the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois.

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