Furloughed workers struggle with filing for unemployment benefit - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Furloughed workers struggle with filing for unemployment benefits

One Mid-South unidentified federal employee says the federal government shutdown caught her off guard. One Mid-South unidentified federal employee says the federal government shutdown caught her off guard.

(WMC-TV) - With no end in sight, many federal workers are starting to file for unemployment. But they are running into unexpected problems.

One Mid-South unidentified federal employee says the federal government shutdown caught her off guard.

"I felt like I'm going home, but I don't want to go home. I need to work," she said. "Minutes after walking into work I was called to my managers office, and she goes, 'Well you're gonna be furloughed."

She has been on her job for more than 13 years. She says she cannot wrap her mind around the idea of applying for unemployment benefits.

"It makes you feel quite irritated because I love work. I live for work. Work is a part of who I am," she said.

But the reality is the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is seeing a huge spike in federal workers making claims for unemployment benefits.

"Military claims were seeing like corps of engineers, IRS workers, TVA workers so there is an influx of calls," said communications director Jeff Hentschel.

Hentschel says federal employees cannot file online. They have to call the claims center.

"Most federal employees did work a day this week and that would disqualify them from receiving benefits," he said.

He says there could be some delay because they have to verify these workers through their employers, many of whom are also furloughed.

"As a result of that there could be delays in processing these federal claims, but even with the delay we'll get it taken care of," said Hentschel.

Hentschel says it is difficult to reach the claims center at times because they handle 500 calls at a time. He advises once a worker gets a connection to stay on the line and avoid calling on their busiest days, which is Monday and Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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