How to get unemployment insurance as a furloughed federal worker

With a shutdown of the federal government on the horizon, government workers and contractors may need to start filing for unemployment insurance.

“We’re anticipating that there’s probably a few hundred thousand federal government employees and even federal government contractors that may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, if the federal government is not funded this weekend,” Unique Morris-Hughes, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, told WTOP.

Make sure you are applying for unemployment in the correct area. If your office is in D.C. but you live in Maryland or Virginia, you will still apply for unemployment insurance in the District.

“If you work in the District of Columbia, even if you’re remote, at least 50% of the time you apply in D.C., regardless if you live in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia,” Morris-Hughes said.

In D.C., the maximum weekly benefit is $444 and if the government is shut down and you are furloughed, you will be able to apply for benefits on Sunday, Oct. 1.

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“There are eligibility requirements that you have to meet,” Morris-Hughes said. “My recommendation is to read through them very clearly and then make an informed decision if you’d like to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.”

You can check those requirements on the Employment Services website.

You may want to carefully weigh if you want to file for unemployment. Once the government is funded again, and workers receive back pay, you do have to pay back the money that you receive.

“You may not want to go through the trouble of applying for unemployment,” Morris-Hughes said, pointing to a seven to 14-day period for benefits to actually come through.

“However, you know, everyone has a different set of financial, you know, scenarios and backgrounds and decisions that they have to make.”

Morris Hughes said you can file online or in-person at one of their American Job Center locations.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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