Furloughed federal employees eligible for unemployment


WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 — The unemployment claims offices of Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia have posted notices giving instructions to Federal employees affected by the government shutdown on how to apply for unemployment benefits.

According to the Office of Personnel Management “302,000 Federal employees work in the immediate Washington, DC, area (defined as the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland; Arlington and Fairfax Counties, and the independent cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church in Virginia).”

Likely anticipating large amounts of applications for the newly furloughed employees, Washington D.C. has advised that “Initial applications will ONLY be accepted online.” Maryland is strongly encouraging applicants to begin the process online for quicker service. Virginia only accepts printed and mailed applications.

Those who successfully complete the application process may have to wait to receive benefits. Claimants in Washington D.C. are subject to a mandatory one week waiting period before benefits are paid, although furloughed employees may apply immediately. Virginia requires that an individual must be unemployed for two weeks before becoming eligible for unemployment benefits.

The uniquely named DC Department of Employment Services Unemployment Compensation Program advised applicants “that in the event non-essential Government employees who file claims for and receive unemployment compensation (UC) during the government shutdown and the Government grants retroactive pay entitlements to furloughed employees, those employees would have to pay back all UC benefits received during the government shutdown period.”

The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation website gives a similar warning about back pay, as does the Virginia Employment Commission.

In a press release, the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) “reported today that the preliminary August job estimates show a decrease of 25,400 jobs for a total of 2,481,900 jobs in the Washington Metropolitan Division. The private sector decreased by 10,500 jobs, while the public sector decreased by 14,900 jobs. The Washington Metropolitan Division’s not seasonally adjusted August 2013 unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, which is down 0.3 percentage points from the July revised rate of 5.8 percent.”

Data for unemployment statistics for October will not be available until the month is concluded and information tallied, a process that can take two months.

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Rahat Husain
Rahat Husain has been working as a columnist since 2013 when he joined the Communities. With an interest in America and Islam, Rahat is a prolific writer on contemporary and international issues. In addition to writing for the Communities, Rahat Husain is an Attorney based in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. He is the Director of Legal and Policy Affairs at UMAA Advocacy. For the past six years, Mr. Husain has worked with Congressmen, Senators, federal agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy institutes, and academic experts to advocate on behalf of Shia Muslim issues, both political and humanitarian. UMAA hosts one of the largest gatherings of Shia Ithna Asheri Muslims in North America at its annual convention.