Are federal employees eligible for unemployment compensation benefits after a RIF?

These benefits are paid to persons unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet other eligibility requirements. These are matters of state law even though the federal government was the employer. In general, the law of the state in which your last official duty station in federal civilian service was located will determine eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits.

For federal employees, a reduction in force is the most common situation that might trigger eligibility. However, extended periods of involuntary leave without pay, such as in a furlough situation, also might qualify.

Applications must be made at the pertinent state agency.

The amounts and duration of benefits also are determined by state law. States typically impose a waiting period of at least one week before benefits begin to accrue, and the duration of benefits varies and can further be extended under certain circumstances. In general, benefits are based on a percentage of an individual’s earnings over a recent 52-week period, up to a state maximum amount and in some states are increased by allowances for dependents.

You must report any earnings during a period for which you are claiming unemployment benefits; your benefit may be reduced and even eliminated. If you fail to report earnings, you may be determined to have been overpaid benefits and be required to repay your state. Also, employees who receive back pay for furlough time, which may happen after a “shutdown” type furlough, must repay any unemployment compensation benefits received.


2020 Digital Almanac

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