Notice of Additional Resources and General Guidance for Shutdown Impacted Employees
With the government shutdown now lasting over a month, NFFE National has received many inquiries from our members regarding available resources. While we continue to urge Congress to end this shutdown, we understand the stress that furloughed employees are facing with no paychecks in sight. We have been working to locate resources to assist those members affected by this shutdown. While resources may vary by locality, please see below for additional resources available for our members in need.
- United Way: United Way maintains 2-1-1, a free information and referral line that can assist employees in finding local resources and services they may be eligible to obtain. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be accessed by phone or computer. Specialists can connect NFFE members to local food pantries, shelter and housing options, health care services, and other additional services. There is a special section of the website dedicated to federal employees impacted by the shutdown. For more information, visit www.211.org.
- Financial assistance: Several financial institutions have announced programs and other assistance to help federal employees affected by the shutdown. There is an ever-expanding list of credit unions offering low interest loans. For more information, click here. This is not an exhaustive list, so we recommend reaching out to your bank or local financial institution to see if they have any assistance programs.
- OPM Guidance: Click here for an overview of OPM’s guidance for employees in the event of a shutdown furlough. Included on the page are links to a comprehensive guide to shutdown and furloughs; sample letters for creditors and mortgage companies; OMB guidance regarding shutdown impact on employee pay; and a fact sheet on pay and benefits information for employees affected by the lapse in appropriations.
- Local events and deals: In addition to 2-1-1, check locally for information on free activities and restaurant deals for government employees affected by the shutdown. For those in the D.C. area, click here.
- Unemployment Insurance: To file for unemployment, employees should first contact the state where they work. Each state has different requirements for meeting unemployment eligibility. In most states, employees who receive unemployment benefits and later receive back pay from their employer for the same time period will be required to repay the unemployment insurance received. Click here for OPM’s Unemployment Insurance Questions and Answers.
- TSP Loan Information: When you go into nonpay status, TSP allows for the suspension of payments to prevent your loan from going into default. However, TSP does not need documentation of employees’ furlough status at this time. If your loan payments were up to date prior to the furlough, your loan will not go into default if you miss one or two payments. You can check the status of your loan by logging into My Account, selecting “TSP Loans,” and then selecting “Are my payments up to date?” Or you can call the ThriftLine at 1-877-968-3778 and speak to a Participant Service Representative. For more information, click here for the TSP fact sheet.
- Continuation of BCBS FEP Coverage: No policies will be cancelled during the shutdown.All processes will return to normal once the government has reopened. If you need to make changes to your policy due to a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) please attempt to utilize the normal process through your payroll office. If that is unavailable to you then please first review changes you can make under a QLE. Then download and complete the SF 2809 form. Finally, fax your completed form to 202-942-1010. If you have any questions or need any assistance in this process, please contact the telephone number on the back of your identification card and indicate you have a QLE and need assistance completing a SF 2809.
Once the government has fully reopened, please have your employing agency complete, sign, date and submit a permanent SF 2809 to ensure your enrollment change has been captured correctly.
This is a follow-up to NFFE’s guidance on Shutdown Resources For Federal Employees. We continue to monitor the situation and will send out more information and resources as they become available.