In preparation for a possible U.S. debt default, Navy Federal Credit Union has announced it will offer a paycheck assistance program to help service members and certain other credit union members if their Defense Department-issued pay is disrupted.

There is a lot of uncertainty about the effects of such an unprecedented event; military pay could be delayed or stopped altogether. The Treasury Department is expected to reach the current debt limit sometime in early June unless lawmakers and the White House reach an agreement to raise the ceiling.

The paycheck assistance program will provide advances on members’ pay, which will be treated as a 0%-interest loan. The loan amount will be based on the most recent direct deposit to the account. The amount will not necessarily be equal to what the service member receives in net pay. There may be other options available for assistance.

Those eligible are all active duty, Guard and reserve military members, and DoD civilian employees and contractors whose pay is issued directly by DoD.

Military retirees are not eligible for this program.

To be eligible for the paycheck assistance program, members must have a paycheck direct deposit set up with Navy Federal and they must register for the program through, the Navy Federal mobile app, or by calling 888-842-6328. Registration for the program will be accepted until three business days after the scheduled payday. For more information about requirements, visit Navy Federal’s information page.

“Given the potential for financial uncertainty related to the debt ceiling, we want to provide our members with peace of mind,” said Pete Amstutz, senior vice president of savings and membership at Navy Federal, in a statement.

Navy Federal has more than 12 million members worldwide, and is open to all service branches, including Coast Guard, veterans, civilians and contractor personnel and their families.

As with some other military-affiliated banks and credit unions, Navy Federal has offered similar programs during government shutdowns in 2011, 2013, and in 2018-2019. The credit union provided loans to nearly 20,000 members, totaling more than $50 million.

Those who may be affected by the debt crisis should check with their bank or credit union to see if similar programs will be offered.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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