FAQ Friday – Can federal workers receive unemployment benefits?

Unemployment insurance Information for furloughed federal workers about the 2018 federal government shutdown can be found here.

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Unemployment Benefit Information for Federal Employees Who are Back at Work

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Q. I am a federal worker who has been furloughed. Am I eligible for unemployment?

A.  You are eligible to file for unemployment insurance compensation. You would need to meet personal and monetary eligibility, but would be considered laid off due to lack of work.

Q. How do I file for benefits?

A. You must file online at labor.idaho.gov/iw. We do not file claims over the telephone. If you do not have Internet access or need help filing online, you may file at your nearest local Idaho Department of Labor office. If you are filing a claim against Idaho, but live in another state, you may also file your claim online at labor.idaho.gov/iw.

After you have successfully filed your initial claim, you will file your weekly continued claim reports at labor.idaho.gov/cc. You may want to check out these helpful videos. ow.ly/pEO6P ow.ly/i/3nvw0

Q. When should I file for benefits?

A.  To use the current week as your waiting week, file this week, by Saturday at midnight.

Q. What if I don’t have a computer or Internet access?

A. We have computers available in all of our local offices. Twenty-three of the 25 department local offices are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday. The Wood River office in Bellevue is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and closed Thursday and Friday. The Soda Springs office is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed Friday.

Q.What information do I need in order to file?

A. You will need your work history information for the past two years including: employer names, addresses, phone numbers, supervisors and dates of employment; your current contact information; your driver’s license or state ID number and work authorization information, if applicable; and bank account information if you choose direct deposit to receive your payments.  Once you gather all of the information, filing a claim online should take about 30 minutes. Copies of your leave and earning statements are not necessary.

Q. Do I have to look for work if I file for unemployment benefits?

A.  Yes. If you do not have a definite return to full-time work date, you must apply for jobs. You must make at least two job contacts per week and keep record of your contacts.

Q. When I file my claim, what option should I choose as my reason for separation from the federal government?

A.  If you are unemployed because of the federal government shutdown, please select “laid off due to lack of work” for your separation reason.

Q. What should we put in the “approximate date to start full-time work” section? 

A. When you file your online application, you will be asked if you have a definite date to return to full time work. If your employer has provided you this date, select yes and enter the date. If not, answer no to this question. If your employer has not provided you a return to full-time work date, you will be required to seek work (see the ‘Do I have to look for work?’ question above.

Q. I am about to be furloughed. The employer has given me the option of using my accrued vacation pay while we are shut down. Can I still collect unemployment if I don’t use my vacation pay?

A. Yes. For unemployment insurance purposes, you are not required to use vacation pay.

Q. If I chose to use vacation pay, can I collect unemployment insurance?

A. It depends on how much you are paid in vacation. If your vacation pay is an amount that is one and a half times your unemployment insurance weekly benefit payment amount, it is not a compensable week — meaning you received too much money for an unemployment insurance payment or waiting week credit that week.  In order to be eligible for benefits, you must also be fully available for work.  It is important that you remain available for work and express your availability for work to your employer, even though you have elected to be paid vacation.

Q. When will we (federal employees) who claimed 9/30 as the last day work get the first check?

fed when do i get paid1A. If you applied for benefits this week, it would be your first week of unemployment and potentially serve as your waiting week (see waiting week criteria above). The next week would be your second week of unemployment and the first potential payable week. Payment is normally available within three to four business days after Waiting Week and First Payment. If you signed up for direct deposit, payment is normally available within four business days of filing your weekly report. If you did not sign up for direct deposit, you will be mailed a debit card. Normally people receive this debit card 7-10 business days after filing their 2nd weekly report. After you receive your debit card, payment will then normally be available within four business days of filing your weekly report.

Q. I received a letter from the unemployment office titled “monetary determination” and it shows that my weekly eligibility amount is $ .00 and my maximum benefit amount is $ .00. Does this mean I do not receive any unemployment while I am furloughed?

A. If you are a federal employee, your wages are not immediately available to us when you file your claim. We have to request your wage information from the federal government. When you  file a claim, you will be sent a letter called a monetary determination stating you are eligible for $0 with an explanation there are wages pending from the federal government. Once we receive wage information, we will send you a second monetary determination with the wage information they reported to us. Despite the federal shutdown, we are getting responses to wage requests. It is important you continue filing your weekly reports at www.labor.idaho.gov/cc, while you wait for your new monetary determination. If you have filed your weekly reports and are otherwise eligible, you will be sent payments for compensable weeks filed once we receive your wage information. It can take up to three weeks to receive your wage information. If your monetary determination did not state that federal wages are pending, please call us at 208-332-8942.

Q. Once the shutdown is over, if the federal government pays us for our time away from work, is this income reportable?  And if so, how should I report my income?

A. Yes. This income is reportable. It would be treated as back pay and reportable for the weeks you were furloughed and could likely create an overpayment. When you receive payment, call us at 208 332-3842 to inform us of your back pay. If you have been paid any unemployment benefits, you will be required to repay those benefits.

Q. Are unemployment insurance benefits taxable?

A.  Yes. Unemployment benefits are treated as taxable income. When you file your claim, you will have the option to have either 10% or 0% federal taxes withheld from your payment. If you have to repay benefits, you will have to repay the gross amount however, as we are unable to recoup the 10% for you. You will receive a 1099G at the end of the year with your tax information.

Q. How do I cancel my claim once I return to work?

When you return to work, simply stop filing your weekly reports. Once you haven’t filed for two consecutive weeks, your claim will go inactive.  Even though you are no longer claiming, be sure to keep your contact information up to date to receive year-end tax information

For additional questions, contact an unemployment staff member at (208) 332-8942 or visit labor.idaho.gov/uitips

27 thoughts on “FAQ Friday – Can federal workers receive unemployment benefits?

  1. saraespeland

    Very helpful post! We have already had customers in the Grangeville office take printed copies! Thank you.

  2. Kim Mathews

    need a selection for Government Shutdown Furlough as a choice for why not working.

  3. Bryan

    Can federal excepted employees who still have to work, but have no idea when they will be paid file a claim? If so, would we still have to make two employment contacts per week?

    1. Idaho Department of Labor

      Hello. You have the right to file an unemployment claim, but if you are fully employed, you would not be eligible for benefits. Section 72-1312 of the Idaho Employment Security Law provides that if you are working full time you cannot be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

      1. Idaho Department of Labor

        Keep track of your days and hours of work just in case you have to file a wage claim. If you do, once the shutdown is over you will need to contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division because the Idaho Department of Labor does not have jurisdiction over any government entity, be it city, county, state or federal. To contact the U.S. Department of Labor in northern Idaho, call 509-353-2793 or 1-866-487-9243. If you are in southwestern and eastern Idaho, call (208) 321- 2987 or (503) 326-3057 in Portland, OR. The national number is 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).

  4. Warren Jones

    Where can we find information on the “personal and monetary eligibility” requirements from FAQ#1 above?

  5. Laura B

    What should we put in the “approximate date to start full-time work” section? This should be in the FAQ section too.

  6. B Thomas

    I received a letter from the unemployment office titled “monetary determination” and it shows that my weekly eligibility amount is $ .00 and my maximum benefit amount is $ .00. Does this mean I do not receive any unemployment while I am furloughed?

    Thank you for your time.

  7. D. Lepak

    Hi, I was told that during the 1995/96 shutdown, furloughed employees were exempted from seeking work. When did this law change, and how do we determine what work we can and cannot accept, as current Federal employees with ethical restrictions on who we can work for? How would we document any job offers that we decline due to ethics violation concerns?

    1. Idaho Department of Labor

      The unemployment insurance program is constantly evolving and there have been many changes since 1996. The department standardized work seeking requirements in April 2013. If you refuse an offer of work, please select yes to the question ‘Did you refuse or miss available work?’ on your weekly report. A department representative will contact you for further information about the reason you did not accept the position.

  8. Dave Schmitz

    Although I’m not a federal employee, I work for a gevernment contractor that may furlogh employees since the govenment is not paying the contractor. Am I eligible for unemployment compensation?

  9. James S.

    I filed my initial claim on October 1st and then filled out a weekly claim report on October 6th. I just filed for the week of October 7-11 and the system told me I had just satisfied my waiting week. Would not the week of the 6th fulfill the waiting week requirement?

    1. Idaho Department of Labor

      The week ending October 6th would have qualified as your waiting week, unless there was a potential eligibility issue that week. Please call us at 208-332-8942 so that we can take a look for you.

  10. Laura

    It looks like I will be curtailed because I work for a government contractor. My question is, if I have personal leave from a government contractor do I have to have my employer pay me for my personal leavel before I am eligible for unemployment?

  11. Sherree Hammer

    I work for a government contractor who will soon begin furloughing their workers due to the government shutdown. We have been told we can use our PL (vacation time) to receive pay during this time. If the furlough continues longer than 2 1/2 weeks, I will be out of PL and will need to apply for unemployment. Since I am technically not allowed to work starting next week at what time can I apply for unemployment? The first week I am off or do I need to wait until I completely run out of PL?

  12. Jeryl McRill

    I was a furloughed worker and filed for unemployment on Oct. 1. I went into the website to check my eligibility amount and there was nothing there. I then called the unemployment office and waited 30 minutes to talk to a representative only to be told it needed to be input into the system. I went in several times after that and it was still the same. I did receive letters in the mail only to be told I was eligible for 0.00 one week and 357.00 the next week. I did not receive any thing after that only to find out that after we found out we were going to get paid, the state stopped our checks. I would think that out of courtesy we should have at least been notified. A coworker called and waited for 40 minutes and was told the state stopped the checks. Yes, I am relieved I don’t have to deal with any red tape regarding reimbursement, but I just think we should have been notified so we didn’t have to waste our time filling out un-needed paperwork!

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