WASHINGTON — If you’re a federal employee who has been working regularly and paying at least a minimum amount of tax, you’re probably eligible to receive some sort of unemployment insurance during the government shutdown.
You’ll have to apply for the benefits with the state in which you work, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That’s the location of your official duty station.
If you’re eligible, the amount of the insurance and the duration depends on the state.
Federal employees who work in Maryland or the District can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. In Virginia, it’s 12 to 26 weeks. In most circumstances, benefits are issued within 14 to 21 days after a claim is filed.
Remember, if approved, you’ll only receive a fraction of your normal pay during the period for which you receive benefits. In D.C., benefits range from $50 to $425 per week. In Virginia, the maximum is $378, and in Maryland the top end is $430.
Once the claim is filed, it is likely that the state in which you work will contact the agency for which you work to verify your eligibility. The agency has 12 days to respond.
Remember, furloughed employees who receive retroactive pay once the shutdown is over should expect to repay those benefits.
OPM has a document that answers a number of questions about whether furloughed employees will have to repay benefits once they receive the money they’re owed from the government.
“In most states … employees will be required to repay the [unemployment insurance] benefits received,” the document reads. Some states will allow those who received benefits to pay the money back over time.
Contact the state in which you work to start the process.
According to a story by WTOP partner Federal News Network, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the average federal employee had just enough assets to cover eight days of spending during the 2013 shutdown.
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