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MailTribune.com
  • Since You Asked: Federal workers didn't get paid twice

  • I heard something that makes me very angry, if it's true. A friend told me that federal employees who were laid off when the government shut down last month received unemployment benefits, even though they eventually were paid in full. Is that right? If so, it's crazy.
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  • I heard something that makes me very angry, if it's true. A friend told me that federal employees who were laid off when the government shut down last month received unemployment benefits, even though they eventually were paid in full. Is that right? If so, it's crazy.
    — Paula A., Medford
    If so, it would be crazy, Paula. But it isn't so, or at least it isn't now. But at one point there was truth in your friend's story.
    When the federal government shut down during a budget stalemate in October, a lot of federal workers filed claims for unemployment. According to a story in the Oregonian, no one is exactly sure of the number just yet, but it could be as many as 4,000 workers in this state.
    The story took a twist when the U.S. government reopened for business and the news came out that federal workers in Oregon who cashed unemployment checks could keep the money, in addition to the wages that Congress agreed to pay. In other words, they were paid twice while not working at all. Sweet deal, eh?
    Turns out it was too sweet. Federal labor officials later ruled that the workers must pay the money back.
    According to the Oregonian, about 1,900 federal workers were paid about $840,000. There were likely more claims made, but those totals are still being figured out.
    Bottom line, Paula, the federal employees did not get paid twice for not working at all; they only got paid once for not working at all.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.
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