With the possibility of a federal government shutdown looming, thousands of government workers and contractors may soon find themselves filing for unemployment insurance. The D.C. Department of Employment Services anticipates that hundreds of thousands of federal government employees and contractors may be eligible for unemployment benefits if the government does not receive funding this weekend.
It is important for those affected to ensure they are applying for unemployment in the correct location. Even if they live in Maryland or Virginia but work in Washington, D.C., they should still file for unemployment insurance in the District. Director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, Unique Morris-Hughes, emphasized that anyone who works in D.C., even remotely, at least 50% of the time, must apply for benefits in D.C., regardless of where they reside.
In Washington, D.C., the maximum weekly benefit is $444. If the government is shut down and employees are placed on furlough, they will be able to apply for benefits starting on Sunday, October 1st. However, there are certain eligibility requirements that applicants must meet. Morris-Hughes suggests carefully reading through the requirements and making an informed decision about whether or not to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The Employment Services website provides information on these requirements.
Before deciding to file for unemployment, individuals should also consider the potential consequences. Once the government is funded again and workers receive back pay, they will be required to repay the benefits they received. Additionally, there may be a waiting period of seven to 14 days before benefits are actually disbursed. Morris-Hughes acknowledges that everyone has different financial situations and decisions to make.
For those interested in filing for unemployment, Morris-Hughes explains that applications can be submitted online through the D.C. Department of Employment Services website or in-person at one of their American Job Center locations.
Considering the uncertain times that lie ahead for government workers and contractors, understanding the options available and making informed decisions about unemployment insurance may help alleviate some of the financial stress caused by a potential government shutdown.