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Furloughed? Here Are Some Tips For Filing For Unemployment

Those looking to make ends meet while the government is shut down are permitted to apply for unemployment benefits.
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Those looking to make ends meet while the government is shut down are permitted to apply for unemployment benefits.

As unemployment claims from furloughed federal employees climb, officials are reminding workers about the process of filing.

The D.C. Department of Employment Services is reporting a spike of nearly 10,000 applications since last week. Under the current unemployment rate, the department normally sees approximately 600 filings in a week.

For this reason, Employment Services spokesperson Najla Haywood recommends you file electronically: "We're encouraging folks to go online and apply. It's a much more seamless process, and it helps process your application faster."

In Maryland, there were 16,000 federal unemployment claims as of Sunday. That's approximately four times the number of claims from federal workers during an entire year. Federal workers filing claims in Virginia will need to submit paper applications, but those who work for a federal contractor can file online.

Haywood says with federal workers scattered among two states and the District there is an important rule to keep in mind.

"File where you work not where you live,"Haywood says. "So if you worked in the District or your tour of duty was here in the District, then you should file with the District of Columbia."

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would restore back pay to furloughed employees once they return to work. Haywood cautions that that will cause benefits to revert.

"If furloughed workers are paid back by their employer," Haywood says. "They would be required to payback their unemployment benefits."

Officials say workers should expect minor delays as they attempt to verify income and employment status from closed government offices.

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