Feds Who Received Unemployment During Shutdown Must Return Payments


Thousands of federal employees who received unemployment compensation while on furlough will have to return the payments to their state or city offices, as they will now receive retroactive pay for the time missed during the government shutdown.

In the state of Maryland, about 20,000 furloughed feds applied for unemployment insurance, according to Maureen O’Connor, a spokeswoman in the state’s Labor, Licensing and Regulation Department. She did not have an exact figure for the number of employees who have already received payments, but said all the benefits must be paid back.

The office is working with the federal Labor Department to determine the process of how and when the state will reclaim that money.

In Washington, D.C., about 16,000 federal employees applied for unemployment, according to WTOP, and 1,700 of them already received benefits. The city’s Employment Services Department is using emails, robo-calls and standard mailings to notify the recipients they must repay the cash. The employees have 60 days to return the payments.

Most furloughed feds stationed in D.C. received $359 per week, the maximum amount of compensation an unemployed individual can make. Employees were only eligible for one payment, as there is a one week wait period before qualifying for the compensation.

In Maryland, where the maximum benefit is $430, furloughed feds were eligible to receive their payments as soon as their unemployment status was verified. In Virginia -- another state home to many federal offices -- the maximum benefit is $378, but those employees also faced the one week wait period.

Virginia received more than 5,900 claims from furloughed feds since the shutdown began Oct. 1. The first payments did not go out until Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Employment Commission said. The state will write a letter to all employees who received unemployment compensation to notify them they must return the payment, but it will not give the workers an exact deadline.  

When the shutdown began, roughly 900,000 federal employees were furloughed with no guarantee of back pay. Congress approved the retroactive compensation as part of a larger deal that reopened government and suspended the nation’s debt ceiling, which in turn obligated anyone who received unemployment to return the payments.

Federal employees forced to work during the shutdown were guaranteed back pay from the outset and therefore did not qualify for unemployment benefits. 

(Image via Apatsara/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.