With the shutdown moving into week three, many federal employees are considering applying for unemployment benefits to ease their financial situation. While unemployment benefits are an option, there are several consequences that any federal employee should know before taking this step.
If you receive unemployment payments during the shutdown and then are retroactively paid once the government reopens, most states (and Washington, D.C.) will require you to pay back the unemployment benefits received. Essentially you cannot be paid twice – that is considered an “overpayment.” If you do not voluntarily agree to repay the unemployment benefits, most states have a law allowing the state (or District) to garnish your wages for the repayment. However, most jurisdictions will allow an individual to repay the benefits on a payment plan, so agreeing to repay your state’s unemployment commission is typically the better way to go.
All in all, if you need the money, go ahead and apply for unemployment benefits. Just be sure to have money set aside when you get your backpay, and be prepared to repay your state’s unemployment commission for any benefits received during the shutdown.
Have other questions about your legal rights and financial obligations during the shutdown? Contact Alan Lescht & Associates, P.C. for more information at (202) 463-6036 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.