@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Feds slow to help NC recoup jobless benefits paid to furloughed workers

Posted March 5, 2014

The National Park Service closed beach access to vehicles along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Oct. 1, 2013, because of a federal government shutdown. (Photo by Donny Bowers)

— Dozens of federal workers who received unemployment benefits from North Carolina during the partial government shutdown in October haven't repaid the money, and the federal government isn't helping the state reclaim it.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Dale Folwell, head of the state Division of Employment Security, told a legislative committee Wednesday that 88 furloughed workers in North Carolina filed for unemployment during the shutdown. Because Congress voted to pay for federal employees for the time they missed during the shutdown, those benefits should be repaid, he said.

Federal law requires the state to obtain salary information from an employer before issuing a notice of overpayment to someone who has received jobless benefits, Folwell said. The trouble is, federal agencies aren't responding to state requests for the information.

"There is no more egregious group that has not responded to our agency than the federal government," he said, noting the 40 percent of private-sector employers in the state also fail to provide such information. "We have called them. We have written them. We have emailed them."

Folwell wrote to each of the 88 people, telling them they weren't entitled to keep the jobless benefits they received, and 49 of them sent back a total of $16,778. The remaining 39 workers still owe $18,114 combined, he said.

Other states are in a similar bind, and some have decided to stop trying to obtain the money, which would revert to the federal government anyway.

"If they won't help me collect their own money, I just don't know what else to do," Folwell said, adding that the state isn't being reimbursed for its time and effort.

Still, the Division of Employment Security plans to send a second letter to the remaining 39 federal workers, he said.

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  • Don Dickerson Mar 7, 2014

    jeffdewitt Mar 6, 10:35 p.m. "
    There was a program called something like attached unemployment where if a company sent people home for over a week or so they could get unemployment, even though they still had a job. I know my company did that, I didn't think it made much sense (it WAS a Democrat program after all), but it did make sense that my company took advantage of the program, and it was a help to the people on furlough."
    The sense of it was that it's cheaper overall to have unemployment kick in to protect someone's paycheck briefly rather than having that affected employee get so low they have to enroll in welfare programs.

  • Jeff DeWitt Mar 6, 2014

    Why would anyone expect the federal government to do the right thing?

    As to paying furloughed workers in general I think the law has been changed. There was a program called something like attached unemployment where if a company sent people home for over a week or so they could get unemployment, even though they still had a job. I know my company did that, I didn't think it made much sense (it WAS a Democrat program after all), but it did make sense that my company took advantage of the program, and it was a help to the people on furlough.

    This sounds like same program, and to be fair to the state we didn't know for a legal certainty that the federal workers would get paid, and this IS a legal matter we are talking about. The state was obligated to pay those people unemployment benefits. However those people have an equal obligation to pay it back. Why don't we do something like blocking their car registration until their obligation is taken care of?

  • Don Dickerson Mar 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm not sure if this is the case here, but I may have an answer to this question.....a while back, as an employee of CCMangum (the paving company) we did work on Federal projects, and the law stipulated a 24-hour minimum work week. Any time we weren't able to work at least 24 hours a week, be it due to weather or project delays or holidays, we received unemployment to make up the difference. There was no waiting period, and no individual filing was needed. It was just part of working for a company with Federal contracts. Maybe that's it.

  • norainonmyparade Mar 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    There is a one week waiting period, where the first week you are not eligible for benefits. When I was laid off in 2012, I filed that first week and received nothing. I filed on Monday of the following week (the second week) and my unemployment compensation was direct deposited in my bank by that Wednesday (two days later).

  • unc70 Mar 6, 2014

    This "issue" is a diversion from real problems with ESC and at the NCGA. This is about only 88 cases to begin with, most returned the money after the first letter, and most of the remainder will after they receive a second notice. This is manufactured outrage being spun into a story.

  • ncwebguy Mar 5, 2014

    This Wos-like ineptitude knows no limits in the GOP controlled state government.

    The NC State Employment Security Commission gave unemployment benefits to 88 people who were not unemployed. Period. How is that not the story?

    GOP appointee Folwell obviously does not know the steps his employees are responsible for between "filing for benefits" and "collecting benefits".

    The GOP cut benefits for people actually looking for work to pay people who actually had a job.

  • Ronnie Reams Mar 5, 2014

    They were not unemployed, they were furloughed and the Fed always pays the furloughed folks back pay after shut down. Why would they ever get unemployment? They were NOT unemployed.

  • pipcolt Mar 5, 2014

    Freeze their bank accounts. Let them contact there employer to have the info sent to NC.

  • mep Mar 5, 2014

    Once you hand out the money... its hard to get it back. Besides, the Federal govt is owed over $3.5 BILLION in back taxes from its own employees, yet wont collect it. Why should they be worried about little ol NC?

  • Dave Audette Mar 5, 2014

    I'm thinking how could anyone get unemployment benifits that fast. The Government was shut down around 16 days. Isn't their a waiting period before benifits are paid? This money should never have been paid for that short of a period

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