By Adam Tobias | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Federal employees in Wisconsin apparently cannot have their cake and eat it, too.
What could be more than 2,000 furloughed workers who received back pay related to the 16-day partial government shutdown will have to reimburse any unemployment benefits that were applied for or collected during that time, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development spokesman John Dipko said.
That total could be in excess of $245,000.
According to Dipko, nearly 2,070 federal employees in the Badger State filed claims for unemployment between Sept. 30 and Oct. 12.
The number of claims made last week were not available at the time of this report.
Documents provided by Dipko show the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees system paid out almost $250,000 to federal workers in Wisconsin between Sept. 29 and Saturday.
More money could potentially be on the way because Dipko said the time it takes to process and pay out a claim can vary.
“Some claimants may need to serve the statutorily-required waiting week before receiving benefits,” Dipko told Wisconsin Reporter in an email. “In other cases, employer wage reports may not be received right away.”
The minimum weekly unemployment insurance benefit rate is $54 and the maximum is $363, Dipko said.
However, state law requires any federal employee in Wisconsin to reimburse any overpaid financial assistance.
If they haven’t already, workers will be notified in writing of their obligation to repay extraneous benefits.
Dikpo said those employees shouldn’t be shocked when they are presented with the correspondence.
“We proactively advised claimants when they contacted us, for their own planning purposes, that they may have to repay benefits for claimed weeks if they receive back pay for those weeks,” Dipko added.
According to the unemployment insurance handbook, the overpayments automatically will be deducted from any future UI compensation.
But if other benefits will not be paid out at a later date, employees will have to pay of pocket, either in one lump sum or over several months. If a worker disagrees with the amount the employer has reported or the requirement to repay, they can file an objection, the handbook states.
If employees contend the overpayments is anyone’s guess, but what is known is that Wisconsin is not alone when it comes to this so-called “double-dipping.”
But that is not the case in Oregon.
Officials in that state cannot require some federal employees to pay back unemployment benefits because of an administrative rule aimed at helping private sector workers on long layoffs, according to Craig Spivey, public information officer for the Oregon Employment Department.
With another possible government shutdown looming in a few months, Oregon is expected to take another look at that regulation, Spivey said.
Contact Adam Tobias at [email protected]
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