Federal workers who received $64,836 in Virginia unemployment benefits must return the money to Richmond … or else.
Since Washington is paying employees for furlough days during the government shutdown, state law says any overlapping unemployment has to be reimbursed by recipients.
“We’ll send letters saying they were overpaid, and by how much,” Joyce Fogg, spokeswoman for the Virginia Employment Commission, told Watchdog.org. “Hopefully, they’ll send back a check.”
If checks aren’t forthcoming, Fogg said disputes would go to a collection agency, or to court. Of 6,200 federal employed Virginia residents who applied for unemployment assistance during the furlough, 191 individuals received payments. The average payout was $339.49 out of a $378 weekly maximum.
Virginia’s stance is tougher than in some states. Out on the West Coast, Oregon has informed its 1,200 federal workers that they can keep their full unemployment benefits, on top of their back pay.
Virginia has a one-week waiting period before workers can apply for unemployment assistance. That delay, plus the Columbus Day holiday, left barely more than a week of benefit eligibility during the government shutdown, Fogg said.
C.J. Whitt, a Virginian who works for the federal government, told Watchdog there were no surprises regarding furlough days.
“All federal employees get back pay, and no one went without getting a check at all,” Whitt said. “We get our back pay prior to the upcoming payday. It was understood upfront that (unemployment benefits) would have to be paid back.”
Cross-posted at Watchdog.org.