State wants unemployment checks back from furloughed federal workers

2013-10-26T00:00:00Z 2013-10-26T00:07:59Z State wants unemployment checks back from furloughed federal workersBy Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
October 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX — Federal workers who got time off with pay during the government shutdown won’t be double dipping, at least not in Arizona.

The state Department of Economic Security says it will seek repayment from the handful of government employees who got their first unemployment checks before Congress finally agreed to a funding plan.

And if the workers don’t cough up the money — a maximum of $240 a week — agency spokeswoman Nicole Moon said there are other ways to address the issue.

According to Moon, 2,144 federal employees in Arizona filed for unemployment benefits between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21.

The state does not pay for the first week of unemployment. But even at that, Moon said 75 federal workers did manage to get claims processed and checks issued beginning the second week, with the state paying out $18,470 in benefits.

Moon said the payments are not a hit to the trust fund that finances jobless benefits, a fund financed by a tax on all private employers.

That’s because jobless benefits for public employees are a “pass-through,’’ eventually repaid to the state by the government itself.

But the state still wants the money back.

Moon said if the worker balks, DES will contact the federal agency that employs the person and ask that their wages be attached.

“The ability to seek the wage garnishment was provided by the federal government in a policy broadcast to state agencies regarding any overpayment that resulted from the federal shutdown and the subsequent payment of back wages,’’ she said.

The other federal workers who applied for benefits won’t be getting checks in the mail.

The remaining 2,069 claims are being processed and will be denied because the shutdown is over and federal workers are getting back pay, Moon said.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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