Sequester: What Will Happen, What Won't Happen and What We Don't Know

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What Won't Happen at All

Sequestration was advertised as "across-the-board cuts" but, in reality, it doesn't touch everything. Certain mandatory entitlement programs are completely exempt from sequestration cuts.

Here are some of them, as outlined in a Jan. 10 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on the sequester:

      Social Security Benefits. The Social Security Administration warned that once staff furloughs begin, the administrative cuts will mean slower processing for disability claims. But Social Security checks themselves will not shrink.

      Medicare Benefits. Payments to providers will shrink 2 percent beginning April 1, meaning "$11 billion in lost revenues to Medicare doctors, hospitals, and other providers," according to CMS -- but actual Medicare benefits are protected from the sequester.

      VA Programs. "All programs administered by the VA, and special benefits for certain World War II veterans," will be exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      Pell Grants. Completely exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      Medicaid. Completely exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      Welfare, technically called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Completely exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      Food Stamps, technically called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Completely exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Completely exempt from sequestration cuts, according to CRS.

      "Child Nutrition Programs (including school lunch, school breakfast, child and adult care food, and others, but excluding special milk)" will all be completely exempt, according to CRS.

      The Special Inspector General for TARP won't lose funds, along with a few other administrative programs related to economic recovery, according to CRS.

      Delayed Tax Returns. ABC News' Devin Dwyer reported that the IRS told ABC News the sequester will not delay tax refunds and may mean fewer audits. The agency has warned its employees to expect furloughs, but not until this summer -- after tax season ends.

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