Furloughed federal workers can apply for unemployment benefits in Washington state

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Federal workers who are furloughed due to the partial government shutdown can apply for unemployment benefits in Washington state, but they'll have to repay the money if they receive back pay from the federal government.

“Washington stands ready to assist federal workers in our state,” Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said in a news release. “Just like other workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, federal workers have the unemployment safety net to help them through this difficult time.”

Federal employees may apply for benefits online at  or by phone at 800-318-6022. The day they should call depends on the last digit of their social security number.

Due to the shutdown, furloughed workers should be prepared to provide verification of their wages when requested because ESD may be unable to reach their employers to verify their wages. Valid documents could include copies of pay stubs or W-2 forms.

ESD has posted a web page with more information for federal employees affected by the shutdown.

More than 73,000 federal employees worked in Washington as of the first quarter of 2018. ESD has received unemployment benefits applications from roughly 1,000 workers since the furlough started, including those furloughed and workers who were laid off for other reasons.

As required by law, workers who receive back pay should plan to repay any benefits received.