Help Furloughed Federal Employees
February 1st, 2019 • News

Senate Information Office: 501-682-5954

January 31, 2019

Federal employees in Arkansas who have not been paid, due to the partial shutdown of the federal government, may qualify for some benefits.

Senator Keith Ingram of West Memphis, the Senate Minority Leader, has formally asked Governor Asa Hutchinson to research the availability of unemployment benefits and other services provided by the state.

Also, Ingram has asked the governor to use his influence with higher education institutions to have deadlines moved back, so that students are not penalized if their federally-funded scholarships are delayed. Any late fees that are assessed should be waived if the students rely on federal dollars to make tuition payments, Ingram said.

Ingram encouraged furloughed federal workers to visit a local DHS office to determine if they qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the food stamp program.

“SNAP eligibility is based on the income you bring in, so a furloughed worker who has not gotten a paycheck may still qualify, even though technically they still have a job,” Ingram said.

Eligibility for unemployment benefits is a little more complex, Ingram said. Furloughed workers who were told to go home, and who are not performing services for their federal agency, may be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

Federal workers who are still on the job but not getting paid are considered “excepted federal employees” and they are not eligible for unemployment. However, there is a category of “excepted” federal workers who are eligible, and those are part-time workers. They must still report their wages earned when they file unemployment insurance claims.

“Until the partial federal shutdown is finally put behind us, once and for all, the state of Arkansas must do all it can to lend a hand to furloughed federal employees,” Ingram said. “They have gone weeks without a paycheck, and that would be financially devastating for anyone except the wealthiest individuals.”

“They are our neighbors. Their children go to school with our children. They attend our churches. That’s why I’m appealing to Governor Hutchinson to use the powers at his disposal to do the right thing,” Ingram said.

Click Here to read Senator Ingram’s Letter to the Governor.