State offers unemployment benefits to furloughed federal workers

OLYMPIA — Federal workers furloughed due to the ongoing partial government shutdown can apply for state unemployment benefits but must repay the money if they receive back pay from their employer.

“Washington stands ready to assist federal workers in our state,” said Suzi LeVine, commissioner with the state Employment Security Department (ESD).

“Just like other workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, federal workers have the unemployment safety net to help them through this difficult time.”

Federal employees may apply for benefits at esd.wa.gov or by calling 800-318-6022.

The day they should call depends on the last digit of their social security number. According to the state website, the day are: Monday, numbers ending 0 to 3; Tuesday, numbers ending in 0-6 and Wednesday, numbers ending in 0 to 9.

Due to the shutdown, furloughed workers should be prepared to provide verification of their wages when requested because ESD might be unable to reach their employers to verify their wages.

Valid documents could include copies of pay stubs or W-2 forms.

ESD has posted a webpage with more information for federal employees affected by the shutdown.

More than 73,000 federal employees worked in Washington as of the first quarter of 2018.

ESD has received unemployment benefits applications from roughly 1,000 workers since the furlough started, including those furloughed and workers who were laid off for other reasons.

As required by law, workers who receive back pay should plan to repay any benefits received.

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