The government shutdown is showing no signs of ending and hundreds of thousands of federal employees are out of work for the foreseeable future. If you’re one of those workers impacted directly, then you could be eligible for unemployment insurance. The details on what you’re eligible for and how soon you can receive the benefits vary by state. But if you’re looking for financial help to keep your finances afloat, unemployment may be a viable option. And the sooner you apply, the sooner you can receive benefits. Read on to find out what you need to know about filing for unemployment during your furlough.
Eligibility for Unemployment During the Government Shutdown
You’ll need to first verify that you’re eligible for unemployment during the furlough. This will depend on how long you’ve been employed and whether or not you’ve truly been furloughed or laid off. To be eligible, you must have been laid off — not been fired or quit. If you have been furloughed directly because of the shutdown, then you are eligible.
To find out how to obtain these unemployment benefits, file a claim in the jurisdiction where you work – not where you live. This is especially important for those workers who work and live in the DC area and commute via Virginia and Maryland (and vice versa). Keep in mind that once you apply, it may take up to several weeks for your claim to be processed so you still may not receive the funds in time to pay your bills for October.
What Happens When the Shutdown is Over
It’s worth noting that there is no clear timeline on the shutdown. If history repeats itself, then furloughed workers will receive pay for the time they were off. At that point, any who filed for unemployment and collected benefits will have to pay the benefits back.
However it’s still not crystal clear what will happen when the shutdown finally comes to an end. An official decision to pay back the furloughed employees hasn’t been made yet. But since the shutdown may go on longer than expected and it takes several weeks to process an unemployment claim, it might be in your best interest to apply for an added safeguard for your finances.
No matter what happens, you do have the power to make sure that the government’s shutdown doesn’t equal a shutdown on your finances. Government shutdowns aren’t a common occurrence and if you’ve been furloughed you may have a lot more detailed questions about what you can do as an employee. If you’re interested in reading more, The Wall Street Journal has a great article which dives further into the details and provides further resources to answer your questions.
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