Help For Furloughed Federal Workers

Lots of people have speculated on what a government shutdown will mean for the country in the long run. In the short term, one thing is clear: thousands of Americans could be without pay for some time.

About 4.1 million people work for the federal government and just over 800,000 workers – mostly civilian military workers – are currently furloughed without pay. Federal employees were last paid Sept. 30 and will next be paid again on Oct. 15 for work rendered. After that, it’s up to Congress when they’ll see they’re next paycheck.

Now, it’s true that the shutdown could be resolved any day now. The last government shutdown lasted nearly a month and when it was all said and done, government workers received back pay for their time on furlough. But, with no idea of when that will be, many federal employees are probably in danger of missing payments on their mortgages, credit cards and other important bills.

So what can they do to remain financially stable in their downtime? Well, if you ever needed an example of why emergency funds are necessary, this it it. Experts typically advise we save enough to survive for nearly six months without pay. Hopefully, those furloughed workers took that advice and have enough to float until the dust clears. If not, perhaps that can negotiate with their creditors.

Cooperating Banks

A few banks and lenders have announced specific plans to address the needs of furloughed customers and many  have policies to address hardship, arrange payment plans and help avoid any catastrophic consequences of salary shortfall. Fannie and Freddie have promised to not charge fees for late mortgage payments made during the shutdown. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have both said that assistance is available to customer effected by the shutdown. Finally, TD Bank has created “TD Cares,”  program to help customers. It’ll will run from Oct. 10 to Nov. 2, or until the government shutdown ends. The bank will advance customers up to $1,000, waive credit card late fees, and adjust mortgage payments on a case-by-case basis.

Unemployment Benefits

Finally, while on furlough, federal employees may become eligible for unemployment benefits under the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. UCFE is paid by the states under the same terms and conditions as regular state unemployment compensation. Information on where and how to file can be found on the U.S Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.gov.

Photo Courtesy, Glyn Lowe Photoworks.

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