RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- As the government shutdown continues, furloughed federal employees are beginning to ask how they can receive unemployment benefits.
According to William Walton, Director of Unemployment for the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), the first step anyone should do is visit their website: http://www.vec.virginia.gov/
There Walton said furloughed employees can receive special instructions that are unique to furloughed employees.
"This will allow us to expedite the application process," Walton said.
On the VEC website Walton said an application for unemployment benefits is available. Once filled out, furloughed employees must attach a pay stub or W-2 and send it via mail to the VEC.
The reason applications can't be processed online like regular unemployment benefits is because the federal government doesn't report employee wages to the VEC like typical companies.
"We have already seen a spike in activity related to benefits," Walton said.
Furloughed employees can receive a maximum of $378 per week in Virginia.
Walton said that if a Virginian applies this week, the earliest they could receive benefits is the week of Oct. 13.
Walton emphasized however that if Congress reaches a compromise that gives furloughed employees their back-pay, all unemployment benefits must be repaid to the VEC.
Walton said he VEC is prepared to handle potentially hundreds of thousands of applications.
Private contractors who have been furloughed should follow the regular process for filing unemployment benefits paperwork.