Unemployment Insurance Benefits Information for Furloughed Federal Workers

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

Answer: 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/claimantportal. 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 also may file your claim online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal.

After you have successfully filed your initial claim, you will file your weekly continued claim reports at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal. 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.

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 also must 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 1/19/18 as the last day work get the first check?

A. 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 labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal, 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. After you file your claim, you will have the option to have either 10 percent or 0 percent federal taxes withheld from your payment. Log in to the claimant portal at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and select ‘Manage Claims’ to have 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 percent 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?

A. 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.

1 thought on “Unemployment Insurance Benefits Information for Furloughed Federal Workers

  1. Pingback: FAQ Friday – Can federal workers receive unemployment benefits? | idaho@work

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