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Furloughed federal workers applying for unemployment, but they also may receive back pay

Updated: Friday, October 4 2013, 06:49 PM CDT
Reported by Kristine Frazao:

Washington D.C. -- Four days of the shutdown and now the reality sets in.

Economic experts now estimate the cost to be about $300 million a day.

Justin Sirois doesn’t want to share which federal agency he works for, but just like about 800,000 others in this country, he went to work Tuesday morning and was then told to go home.
 
“We were just kind of blindsided by it,” stated Justin Sirois.
 
He’s already written a novel and is using his furlough days trying to earn some extra money writing.
 
“I think the last thing I want to do is file for unemployment,” Sirois continued.

But if the government shutdown lasts more than a couple weeks, he’d have no choice.
 
“I have a mortgage, I don’t know what else to do,” Sirois continued.  “None of us expect to get paid.”
 
But federal workers in the 1995, 1996 shutdowns did end up getting paid, though most didn’t go to work for three weeks. It was at a great cost to taxpayers totaling about $1 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
 
“We would gladly pay them if they would do things like processing new social security claims and auditing defense contractors but were losing out in getting these services,” University of Baltimore Law Professor Charles Tiefer stated.
 
Tiefer is a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School.  He says there’s also the matter of those who get paid unemployment benefits who, if Congress gives the green light, will also get back pay.
 
While most states require them to return those benefits, the offices themselves would have to make sure they do.

“Some states may very well have the attitude that it costs more than it’s worth to pursue this,” Tiefer stated.
 
Another major expense is the backlog.

Government agencies who already struggle to keep up with paperwork could now have piles of paperwork to catch up on, including money owed from audits that doesn’t get collected.  This all will be a vicious cycle at a huge cost to taxpayers.

Workers in Washington D.C. and Virginia must wait a week before filing for unemployment.  In Maryland, however, state offices saw more federal workers file for unemployment benefits on Tuesday alone, than they usually do in an entire year.
Furloughed federal workers applying for unemployment, but they also may receive back pay


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