Can Federal Workers Collect Unemployment During the Shutdown? Some of Them

January 10, 2019, 7:33 PM UTC

As the government shutdown wanes on, federal employees that have been furloughed are dealing with their first missed paycheck.

While for some that might not be a tremendous problem, for others that money is much needed to cover their mortgage, electricity, food, and other household bills. Now, some federal workers are filing for unemployment as a way to make ends meet.

Around 380,000 federal workers are currently furloughed, and 420,000 employees are working as “essential” personnel without pay. While only a small percentage of those workers have filed for unemployment thus far, the number is expected to grow as the shutdown continues.

For instance, in D.C, 3,745 federal workers and an estimated 822 federal contractors have applied for benefits, and in Maryland 1,328 workers have filed an unemployment claim, The Huffington Post reports. CNBC says that more than 4,700 federal employees filed for unemployment in the last week of December, compared with 929 the week prior.

But not everyone qualifies.

In order to qualify for unemployment, a federal employee has to be one of the 380,000 employees that are currently furloughed, not one of the 420,000 working without pay. Those working without pay are still considered “employed” even though they aren’t seeing a paycheck.

And workers who do receive unemployment will be required to pay that unemployment back when they’re granted backpay after the shutdown. If they don’t, their future wages could even be garnished.

And to receive unemployment federal employees have to prove they’re applying for jobs while they’re receiving payments, jobs that they theoretically don’t need or want.